Wednesday, December 10, 2014

OBAMA OR REAGAN—WHO HAS THE BEST ECONOMIC RECORD?

The Republicans will tell you that their hero Ronald Reagan did the best job of handling the U.S. economy and Obama has done the worst.  Sorry, Republicans.  Obama beats Reagan on unemployment, stock performance, the national debt and healthcare spending, just to take a few measures.
Let’s review the numbers.

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE:
Obama inherited a worse unemployment rate and brought it down quicker than Reagan.




REAGAN
OBAMA
START OF TERM
7.5%
7.8%
PEAK
10.8%
10.0%
AFTER 6 YEARS
6.9%
5.8%

STOCK MARKET PERFORMANCE—S&P 500
On both Total Return and Total Return Adjusted for Inflation, Obama beats Reagan hands down on stock performance as measured by the S&P 500.



REAGAN
OBAMA
TOTAL PRICE RETURN
78%
101%
ANNUALIZED PRICE RETURN
11%
13%
TOTAL RETURN (ADJ FOR INFLATION)
41%
127%
ANNUALIZED RETURN (ADJ FOR INFLATION
11%
18%
Note: Reagan (January 1981 to October 1986) Obama (January 2009 to October 2014)
Source: S&P Return Calculator at http://dqydj.net/sp-500-return-calculator/

PERCENT INCREASE IN GOVERNMENT DEBT
Government debt increased LESS and at a LOWER annualized rate under Obama than under Reagan.



REAGAN
OBAMA
% INCREASE IN GOVERNMENT DEBT—6 YRS
190%
70%
AVERAGE ANNUAL INCREASE IN GOVT DEBT
23%
12%
Sources:
Average % increase in government debit
% increase in government debt over 6 years

AVERAGE ANNUAL INCREASE IN HEALTHCARE SPENDING
The average annual increase in healthcare spending under Obama was only a third of what it was under Ronald Reagan.


REAGAN
OBAMA
AVERAGE ANNUAL INCREASE IN HEALTH CARE SPENDING
11.7%
3.8%

VERDICT:  
OBAMA BEATS REAGAN ON EVERY MEASURE.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How to detect a Republican “non-job creating,. job creation” bill

Everybody is in favor of job creation.  Little wonder then that Republicans are touting that they have passed no less than 46 “job creation” bills that the mean old Democrats have blocked in the Senate.  See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/30/republican-jobs-bills_n_6227190.html

Now, before we examine some of these so-called Republican “job creation” bills lets give some thought to how job creation does and does not occur and what government can do to actually create jobs.

First, contrary to what you will hear from Republicans, governments DO create jobs.  For example, in 2012 nearly 3 million Americans worked for the Federal government and nearly 19 million worked full or part-time for state and local governments.  Today, about 9 million Americans are unemployed.  If we increased the Federal, state and local government employment by just 10%, we would automatically create 2 million jobs and cut the unemployment rate from 5.8% to 4.5%, which would bring the U.S. to or near “Full Employment” by just about any definition.  See: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.a.htm and http://newsbusters.org/blogs/tom-blumer/2014/10/04/ap-sells-new-normal-59-percent-unemployed-almost-consistent-healthy

In other words, if we really wanted to bring the country rapidly to full employment, all we need is for the Republicans to pass some legislation funding hiring at any or all levels of government.
Of course, that is not going to happen.  Anyway, when most people talk about job creation, they are talking about private sector job creation.  So, let’s look at how and why that happens.

Imagine for a moment that you run a business.  You have employees.  Now, when and why would you decide to hire more employees?  Let’s say you suddenly find yourself with more profits because, for example, you got a tax break?  Would you: (A) give yourself a bonus, (B) buy some piece of technology that might make your company more efficient, so you would need to employ fewer people, or (C) hire more workers even though you really don’t have any work for them to do?  If you said (C), you are not much of a businessman.

Now, let’s say that you suddenly find that your company’s products/services are in great demand.  Customers are beating down your door.  You’ve increased overtime, but your employees are exhausted.  You are having to turn good customers away because you can’t produce enough product or provide the services your excited new customers are demanding.  Do you: (A) give yourself a bonus, (B) buy some piece of technology that might make your company more efficient, so you can handle the new customers with the same workforce or (C) hire more workers to meet the demand?  If you said (A), you’re not much of a businessman.

Think about it.  Businesses DO NOT hire people when there is no work for the new employees to do.  Businesses hire workers reluctantly when they have to choose between turning away paying customers or adding to their payroll so that they can meet the needs of these new customers and increase company revenues by a sufficient amount to overcome the increase in their payroll cost from the new hires
.
It is an issue of supply and demand.  When the current SUPPLY of employees is SUFFICIENT to meet the current DEMAND of work, businesses DON’T HIRE.  When the SUPPLY of employees is INSUFFICIENT to meet the DEMAND of work, then businesses DO HIRE.  It’s that simple.
Now, let’s examine the Republican “non-job creating” job-creating bills.

Deregulation

First, Republicans are proposing all kinds of ways to deregulate the energy sector in the name of job creation.  Supposedly these bills will save companies money they must now spend to comply with government regulation, such as hiring workers to ensure that regulatory requirements are met.  So, how do these bills impact the issue of employee supply and demand?  If you said, they DECREASE demand, you are right.  Deregulation is a job killer, not a job creator.  Companies will need to hire FEWER people to ensure that regulatory requirements are met.  But, what about the money companies save?  Knowing what you know about employee supply and demand, do you think employees will use those saving to hire more workers they don’t need or will they just pocket the savings or turn them into big bonuses for the top guys and gals? 

Tax Cut Bills

Second, Republicans propose a variety of tax cuts for corporations in the name of job creation.  Do these bills create DEMAND for more employees?  Will corporations use the tax savings to hire more workers the DON’T NEED or will they just pocket the savings?  You know the answer.  You understand employee supply and demand.

But, what about investment in research and development?  Wouldn’t these companies take the tax saving and invest in new research and development thereby creating jobs?  Maybe.  If, they have R&D that they would like to undertake, but could not afford before the tax cut.  However, as a Brookings Institution economist has noted much of the R&D work companies undertake is done overseas.  There is no guarantee that companies would use any tax savings to hire additional American workers, even if they used the tax savings for additional R&D.
Of course, tax cuts could create jobs if they were the right kind of tax cuts.  For example, if governments CUT taxes paid by poor and middle class Americans, these Americans would most likely spend the tax savings to purchase goods and services from the private sector, thereby INCREASING DEMAND and changing the employee demand/supply ratio causing private companies to hire more employees.  Note that Republicans are rarely, if ever, in favor of cutting taxes for the middle or working class
Education Bills

Republicans offer at least four education bills that they say are job creators.   Two have to do with requiring colleges to provide more counseling concerning student debt.  They may result in colleges hiring a few more counselors, but these bills have little or nothing to do with creating very many jobs.

The other two bills have to do with either allowing states to spend federal education funding as they see fit and/or providing more funding for charter schools.  It’s hard to see how these bills will have any positive impact on employee supply/demand.   

Welfare Bills

Two of the Republican "non-job creating job creation bills" would overhaul welfare policy to make poor Americans poorer by reducing benefits and to require recipients of welfare to get a job even if no jobs are available for them to get.  As some economists have noted, these bills are actually job killers since they reduce the spending power of poorer Americans whose spending helps to INCREASE demand for products and services thereby requiring companies to hire more workers to meet the demand.

Bills To Repeal The Affordable Care Act

Finally, Republicans say that Obamacare is a job killer and repealing the Affordable Care Act would create jobs.  So, what impact has Obamacare actually had on job growth?  Forbes reports that the healthcare industry has ADDED almost 1 million jobs since the Affordable Care Act became law.  Why?  More people got health insurance.  More people went to the doctor increasing DEMAND.  Health providers had to HIRE additional workers to meet the DEMAND. 

When is a “job creation bill” actually and “non-job creating, job creation bill”?

So, what should you ask Republicans when they tout their “job creation” bills?  Ask them specifically how their proposed bill will lead to an increase in the DEMAND for employees by increasing the DEMAND for products and/or services from the private sector?  If they can’t show how their proposal will alter the employee supply/demand ratio in a direct and positive manner, what they are proposing isn’t a “job creation bill” but a “non-job creating, job creation bill” that helps somebody but doesn’t do a damn thing to put more Americans to work.

Real “job creating, job creation” bills

What do the real “job creating, job creation” bills look like?  They are bills that CREATE INCREASED DEMAND FOR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES FROM THE PRIVATE SECTOR THROUGH DIRECT GOVERNMENT SPENDING.  For example, when governments spend tax dollars to repair roads and bridges, they hire private contractors who in turn hire workers to meet the increased DEMAND for road repair/construction products and services that governments have created.  When governments change education policy such as reducing student/teacher ratios, they create INCREASED DEMAND for teachers and teaching assistants.  When governments go to war, they INCREASE DEMAND for soldiers and for war making materials/supplies provided by the private sector that often must HIRE additional workers to meet the INCREASED DEMAND governments have created.  Government spending, particularly government spending that directly results in an increase in DEMAND for products and services from the private sector CREATES JOBS.  Why do you think the leaders of just every town in America would jump at the chance to have the feds locate a major military base or research facility in the city?  Republican or Democrat these local politicians know that government spending CREATES jobs?  Notice this.  Republicans almost always OPPOSE real “job creating, job creation” bills in the name of REDUCING government spending.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Do you care? If so, do something.

Once again kids in school have been killed and injured.  Including the events of today, nearly 300 children have been killed or wounded by crazed gunmen in the last four years alone.  You can see the numbers here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States

Each time kids get killed in schools, Americans do nothing to stop the violence.  All Americans have to do is tell members of Congress that they will no longer vote for them unless they pass sensible gun control legislation that will keep guns out of the hands of people who use them to kill kids.
 
Have you written your Congressman and Senator demanding gun control?  Will you demand gun control now?  No.  I guess you just don’t care. 

If you want to do something to stop the violence, you can.  It is easy.  All you have to do is write your Congressman and Senator.  If you will just take the time to write three simple emails, you can do something to stop the violence against kids.

You can find out how to write your Congressman and Senator here:

Will you send them this message?  All you have to do is copy it and paste it into an email.  Is that too hard?  Or, don’t you care?  Copy this.  Send it.  Demand action.  Or, don't you care?

Dear Congressman/Senator _________

If you want me to ever vote for you again, get behind efforts to pass a comprehensive gun control bill to stop the violence in our schools.  I’m serious.  Either get behind gun control legislation right now or you lose my vote forever.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Americans poised to give power to the Party they hate

American voters who frequently complain about nothing getting done in Washington now seem poised to give control of the U.S. Senate to Republicans, guaranteeing that nothing will get done in Washington over the next two years, at least.  

Nine separate Election Projection forecasts now show Republicans taking control of the Senate, winning 52 to 53 seats with 47 to 48 seats being held by Democrats and 3 Independents who are likely to caucus with the Democrats. 

These projections are in spite of the fact that in poll after poll, Americans support the position of the Democratic Party over that of the Republican Party on just about every public policy issue, often by overwhelming majorities. 

  • Global Warming: By a 58%-30% margin, Americans believe that "the federal government should limit the release of greenhouse gases from existing power plants."
  • EPA Carbon Rules: By a 67%-29% margin, Americans support the EPA setting "strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants with a goal to reduce emissions significantly by the year 2030."
  • Clean Energy/Dirty Energy: By a 59%-31% margin, Americans support "alternative energy" over "oil, gas and coal." By a 41%-31% margin, Americans believe we should put LESS emphasis on coal, compared to 76%-10% who believe we should put MORE emphasis on solar and 71%-12% who say we should put MORE emphasis on wind.
  • Gun Laws: By a 92%-7% margin, Americans support "requiring background checks for all gun buyers." By a 54%-9% margin, Americans believe that "laws covering the sale of guns should be made more strict" as opposed to "less strict."  By a 63%-34% margin, Americans OPPOSE more "teachers and school officials having guns in schools." By a 54%-42% margin, Americans support a "ban on assault-style weapons." Etc, etc.
  • Obamacare: 40% favor it and 17% oppose it because it's not liberal enough, for a combined 57% who support Obamacare or want it to go (much) further. Only 38% oppose it because it's "too liberal."
  • Same-Sex Marriage: By a 56%-38% margin, Americans support "allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally."
  • Abortion: 40% say abortion should be legal "always" or "in most circumstances," with another 38% saying it should be legal in "a few circumstances." Just 20% say it should be "always illegal."
  • Contraception: Americans overwhelmingly support contraception access, including a 53%-41% margin saying that "employers who object to birth control and other contraceptives on religious grounds...should not be exempt from the requirement that their health plans cover prescription birth control."
  • Immigration: Only 22% of Americans favor deportation of "immigrants who are currently living in the U.S. illegally." In contrast, 58% of Americans support "allow[ing] them a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements." By a 65%-31% margin, Americans support the bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate and being held up by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives that "allowed foreigners staying illegally in the United States the opportunity to eventually become legal American citizens if they pay a fine, any back taxes, pass a security background check, and take other required steps."
  • Minimum Wage: By a 71%-28% margin, Americans overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage.
  • Social Security: By a 73%-21% margin, Americans "think the benefits from Social Security are worth the cost of the program for taxpayers." And by a 51%-37% margin, Americans OPPOSE "hanging the way Social Security benefits are calculated so that benefits increase at a slower rate than they do now."
  • Labor Unions: By a 54%-39% margin, Americans approve of labor unions.
  • Campaign Financing: By huge margins, Americans support " limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to political campaigns" (71%-25%), and limiting spending by "groups not affiliated with a candidate" (76%-22%).
  • 69 percent of Americans oppose any cuts to Social Security or Medicare, even in order to cut the deficit, while only 23 percent support such cuts.
  • Between 60 percent and 80 percent of Americans support increasing taxes on the wealthy.
  • 58 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana, while only 39 percent support continued criminalization.
  • 62 percent of Americans support the Paycheck Fairness Act - which seeks to close the gender-based wage gap - while only 29 percent of Americans oppose the act.
  • 66 percent of Americans support stronger EPA air regulations, 72 percent support stronger carbon-emission.

Read the election forecasts here:

Election Projection
Five Thirty.
The New York Times.
The Washington Post.
Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Politico.
Daily Kos.
The Princeton Election Consortium.
and Microsoft/Bing.
Vox.com provides some analysis/explanation of the different forecasting models being used by the forecasters here:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Republicans can impeach Obama but they cannot remove him from office. Here's why

Can Republicans Impeach Obama?  YES.
Currently, Republicans control the House 254 members to 199 Democrats.  According to Article I, Section II of the U.S. Constitution, the House of Representatives has "the sole power of impeachment."   Republicans only need 227 votes to impeach Obama.  They certainly would have enough votes to do so if Speaker John Boehner agreed to bring impeachment charges to the floor of the House for a vote.

Can Republicans remove Obama from office.  NO.
According to Article I, Section III of the U.S. Constitution the U.S. Senate has "the sole power to try all impeachments" and "no person shall be convicted (and removed from office) without the concurrence of two thirds of the members (of the Senate) present."  In other words, if Obama were impeached, the Senate would conduct a trial in which 2/3rds of the Senate (67 Senators) would have to vote FOR conviction and removal from office.

Even if Republicans win control of the Senate in November, it would be impossible for them to remove Obama from office. Here is why.

The U.S. Senate currently consists of 53 Democrats, 2 Independents who vote with the Democrats, and 45 Republicans.  Thirty-six seats in the Senate are up for election in 2014.

Forty Democratic seats are either not up for election or are generally considered out of reach for Republicans. Additionally, 6 races are seen as Likely or Leaning Democrat based upon current polls.  In other words, it is almost certain  that the Democrats will retain a minimum of 40 seats and very likely 46, even if Republicans take control of the Senate, which is possible but by no means certain.

Democrats would need only 34 votes to block any effort by Republicans to remove Obama from office.  They will almost certainly have the votes they need even if the November is a disaster for them.


BOTTOM LINE:  Obama will serve out his full second term, regardless of what Republicans do even if they take control of the Senate in November. 

Here is the data from Real Clear Politics: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2014/senate/2014_elections_senate_map.html


Friday, June 6, 2014

The Attack Democrat has a NEW BOOK


Dr. Boyett's new book, The Guru Guide to Time Management, has just been published. It is the first book in the acclaimed Guru Guide series to be published in 10 years.  Click on the link at the right to read more and/or order direct from Amazon (Prime eligible).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Obamacare Website Status Report

Republicans will be disappointed to learn that the most recent report on the performance of the federal Obamacare Exchange site is dramatically improved.  Here are some graphs from the most recent report.  Sorry Repubs—really not.  The Obamacare site just keeps getting better.  Read the stats and weep.



Friday, November 15, 2013

UPDATE: Progress on fixing Obamacare website

Although much remains to be done, the most recent report (issued today) indicates that the Obamacare site fixers have made some significant progress.

This is an update on the status of the Obamacare Federal Health Insurance Exchange fixes as of today (Friday, November 15, 2013) from Julie Bataille, Director of Communications, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Here is a summary with the full post from Bataille below:

·         200 bug fixes have been completed.

·         There were no unscheduled outages the past week.

·         Page response time/ page load time has been cut from an estimated average of 8 seconds at start up to under 1 second this week.

·         Per Page Error rates (system time outs or failures that prevent the user from advancing to the next page or result in users receiving error messages) have been cut from an estimated 6% at start up to under 1% this week.

·         Site usage has increased considerably both in the number of users and user levels of activity; whether viewing pages or completing stages of the process.

·         Users are still experiencing slow response times during periods of peak usage when many users are signed on to the site and attempting to get information and/or enroll prompting a planned increase in server capacity scheduled to come online this weekend.

A copy of the full report follows:

Today, Jeff Zients offered an update on our efforts to improve HealthCare.gov.  In Jeff’s own words –

Overall, we’ve made measurable progress, as the changes and improvements we’ve made over the last few weeks are having a positive impact on system performance and user experience. The Marketplace system was stable all week, with no unscheduled outages. And for most users, speed and response times were generally good, and error rates were low. In total, we now have crossed more than 200 bug fixes off of our punch list.

Here is an update on where we are at the end of the week:

As we stated last week, two of our key operating metrics are response time and error rate.

Response time is how fast the system responds to user's requests. For the first few weeks after the site launched, we estimate that users were waiting an average of eight seconds for pages across the site to load.

This past week, average response times for most users remained under 1 second.

The other critical metric is the site’s error rate, a measure of the frequency, on a per page basis, of system time outs or failures that prevent the user from advancing to the next page or result in users receiving error messages.

Last Friday, we reported that we had reduced the error rate to 2% down from 6% a few weeks earlier.

This week, by continuing to eliminate glitches and execute software bug fixes, we’ve driven the error rate down to under 1%.

So, on both of these key metrics, response times and error rates, we’ve made measurable progress.

But we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

In the last week, volume on the site increased significantly, both in the number of users and user levels of activity; whether viewing pages or completing stages of the process. During peak periods of volume, some users experienced slower response times.

The increased volumes are a good sign, as they indicate the bug fixes and improvements we’ve made are allowing more consumers to move through the site.

But we clearly need the system to perform reliably with fast response times at higher volumes. This is a key focus of our work now, which we are addressing with additional hardware and infrastructure upgrades, starting this weekend. We will be bringing additional servers online, as well as additional database capacity and data storage. With these upgrades, we will significantly increase the system’s capacity and allow us to maintain good speed and response times at higher volumes.

On the software front, in the last week we have crossed more than 60 improvements and bug fixes off our punchlist, including:

•Adding visual cues to Plan Compare screens to help consumers make the best plan selection.

•Improving Direct Enrollment functionality to help consumers move back and forth to issuers’ websites.

•Fixing a glitch that was preventing some consumers in Pennsylvania from moving through the shopping experience.

In total, we now have crossed more than 200 bug fixes off of our punch list.

For next week, we have a prioritized list of 50 additional fixes and improvements that we’re focused on.

There is still a lot of work to be done to continue to improve the system and user experience. And it’s likely that as we move forward we will find additional glitches and experience intermittent periods of sub-optimal performance.

But we are making measurable progress.

And our bottom line continues to be that by the end of November, we expect to have the site working smoothly for the vast majority of users.

As the President said yesterday, not all consumers going on the website will have a seamless experience. We will continue to improve the site beyond the end of the month.

Most people who use the site will have it operate the way it is supposed to. But it’s important to know that even with a well-functioning website, there are going to be people who need additional help.

Whether it’s due to some complexity in individuals’ particular situations or needs, or simply because buying insurance is a big, complicated decision, some will prefer to get assistance in thinking it through.

So while we are focused on making the site work smoothly for the vast majority of users, the team is also working to make sure we are doing everything we can to give people more assistance in the application process through our call centers and available in-person assistance.