Friday, May 30, 2014

Fixing the VA...Once and For All

Yet, once again, we hear President Obama say the same thing, this time about the scandal at the VA where dozens of veterans have died waiting to be treated or operated on.

A friend of ours (Ann Stone) says the President's response is distressingly similar to every other scandal that has plagued this President: the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups; the NSA eavesdropping of everyone it seems and now the VA scandal:
'Step one : I didn't know about it...I heard about it on TV
Step two: Express outrage
Step three: Call for a study
Step four: Fire a low level bureaucrat who likely was just following orders
Step five: Announce that you will wait on further action until the AG, IG, FBI finishes their investigation...then
Step six: Six months later announce it is all done or blame it on a political witchhunt by the Republicans ....
Repeat as needed....sigh'
At some point in time, you just want to throw up your hands and say: 'Take some responsibility for your own Administration and leadership or lack thereof!'

Here's one thing that President Obama could lead the charge on, however, and aim the VA towards a better solution once and for all:

'Allow federal allocated money to follow any vet who wants to go to a private hospital such as Duke University Medical Center...just exactly like VA money follows the vet around in the GI Bill and VA housing loans'

We generally are not in favor of expanding government programs or spending for the most part. We spent 22 years in Washington, DC with 12 of those being on Capitol Hill in a responsible public service position in Congress and 4 on the House Budget Committee.

22 years inside the belly of the beast showed us beyond a shadow of a doubt that we could cut and reform, reform and cut the US federal budget til the end of our lives and we would never really get to the point where every single tax dollar was spent to its fullest potential and produced optimal outcomes.

The one area where we are for more support, though, is for our veterans. Of any war, in any capacity. They could be peeling potatoes for 5 years in Singapore for all we know and we would still be in favor of full, high-quality benefits for them.


Because we never had the guts to join the military and serve our country in uniform. Anyone who does have those guts in these days of an all-volunteer military is far more brave than any professional athlete whom commentators praise beyond belief for 'playing with a bad ankle'. Or any person we know for that matter.

Any person who is willing to risk their lives for the rest of us deserves to be treated like a king or queen after their service to our nation and our freedom is over.

The way the VA hospitals have been operated in the past, and apparently, are still being operated, has been disgraceful. Maybe this scandal will rock the VA world to the point that the Obama Administration will actually take the bold steps necessary to resolve the problem and reform the VA hospital system in America forever.

How so?

'Adopt the same model as the VA has for the GI Bill where the government gives veterans money for scholarships to go to college and for VA-assisted housing where the government offers lower terms so vets can buy their own homes'

The concept is pretty simple:  Have the government money follow the vet around to wherever they want to receive health care. The vets get the federal support for health care and then they get to make their own individual choice as to where they want to go get treatment or schedule an operation to fix their war wounds.

We don't have 'Medicare-only' hospitals where only old people can get their health care, do we? We don't have 'Medicaid-only' hospitals where only poor people can go to get their health care, do we?

So why do we segment our veterans in a 'veterans-only' hospital system somewhat isolated from the truly great and exceptional health care that sometimes is being offered right across the street in a private medical center?

For some reason, VA medical care is the only program in the VA that doesn't use some form of vouchers or subsidized help in the private sector to benefit our veterans. There is some sort of mystical notion that the VA hospital system is the be-all, end-all for every veteran who returns to this nation alive and intact.

Former Congressman Alex McMillan had many conversations with veterans or their families about some problem they were having with the VA at the time between 1985-1995, usually a lack of admittance or a screw-up during their treatment.

Generally, the vets and their families were adamant about wanting to go to the VA, come hell or high water, regardless of the level of care they were receiving.
'Let's say you and I were driving down the road to your appointment at the VA in Durham, North Carolina on Erwin Road' Congressman McMillan would postulate.
'On the left side of Erwin Road is the entrance to the VA hospital. 100 yards ahead on the right is the entrance to world-renowned Duke University Medical Center where people come from all over the world for treatment.
Suppose you had a voucher to go to either hospital, the VA on the left or DUMC on the right.
Which would you choose?'
You would think that ended the conversation right there. While the delivery of care today in the VA system is far better than it was 30 years ago, there is still no comparison to the level of care a vet could receive at Duke Medical Center versus the VA Hospital across Erwin Road.

Yet the vet and his family would vociferously insist on getting help to go to the VA on the left side of Erwin Road in Durham. They deemed it to be their 'constitutional right' based on the social contract they believed they had agree to when they entered the service in the first place.

The point of this vignette is not to curse the VA or damn its fine doctors and nurses, especially in the wake of the VA scandal now brewing in Washington. We have a son who is now doing a surgery rotation in the VA so we know that many good-to-great doctors are helping our veterans get well.

The point we are trying to get across has more to do with prudential decision-making on the part of our duly-elected representatives and senators on Capitol Hill to use scarce resources, both financial and human medical talent, in optimal ways to provide the very best medical care we can for our returning, recovering veterans who keep us free every day of our blessed lives.

We can do better. We can fold the VA system into the general medical system of the US and allow medical care vouchers to follow the vet either in the form of paying for their insurance on the open market or just contracting directly with private institutions such as DUMC.

The existing VA capital plant of hospitals can be merged with the private sector hospital system and all of that money spent to keep up the plant and equipment can be used for other purposes. In many states, many of the more rural hospitals are struggling to fill its allotment of beds and use of their MRI machines. The larger hospital system could direct many VA cases to these under-utilized rural hospitals and provide much higher care for the vets with their experienced doctor and nursing staffs.

This VA scandal can actually be helpful if it leads to more clear-headed and clear-eyed policy on how we treat and deal with returning veterans.

Allowing VA benefits and cash to follow the vets around and allow them to make their own healthcare decisions would be a good place to start.

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fixing Medicaid So We Can Solve Teacher Pay...Among Other Things

For once, a book on Medicaid everyone
can read and understand!
For people who wonder where the money goes in the state budgets that should be going to pay our teachers more, all roads lead to one place and one place only:

Medicaid. The joint federal/state program to provide health care for lower-income and below poverty folks and families.

Now, people will say reflexively: 'There they go again! Bashing poor people for everything!'

Which is hardly the truth at all. The truth of the matter, however, is that the growth in Medicaid is squeezing every state budget across the nation into making very tough decisions on what they will be able to fund every year, up to and including teacher salaries and higher education.

Medicaid and Medicare would have already bankrupted the federal government had there been a balanced budget amendment to the US Constitution and no QE1, QE2 and QE-Infinity from the Federal Reserve to constantly bail us out of our fiscal insanity over the past 30 years.

Just making up currency out of thin air has a way of putting off the inevitable really hard decisions, doesn't it?

Consider this: Roughly 24% of every state budget in the nation today is dedicated to Medicaid coverage of its less fortunate citizens.

In 2002, Medicaid accounted for 15% of the North Carolina state budget. A 60% jump in terms of percentage of state budget allocated to Medicaid over these past 12 years.

There are estimates that show Medicaid going to 30% of state budgets in the next 5 years or so and 50% one day if it is allowed to continue to grow unabated.

Then what? Are we going to freeze teachers pay forever and pay 50% of our annual state budget on delivering Medicaid services to the poor?

There are some people who will reflexively say: 'Just raise taxes on the rich people! They should pay for it all anyway!'

That pretty much goes against the concept of a participatory democracy, doesn't it? It used to be in America not too long ago that if something was determined to be worth the common goal of our society, it also was worth being paid by everyone, not just one small subset of the society.

The imposition of higher payroll taxes for Medicaid in 1965, for example. NO wage-earner escapes what is essentially the only national 'flat-rate tax' for Medicare and Social Security, do they? You never hear anyone advocate a progressive, graduated payroll tax, do you?

State budgets are all controlled by balanced budget amendments. Thank God in Heaven!

Since every state agreed to give up their ability to coin their own currency as a precondition for joining the US and agreeing to the US Constitution, each state has always had to find ways to balance their budgets either by raising taxes or cutting spending elsewhere.

It is not easy. Or else everyone with your ability to manage things would be running to Raleigh to do this, wouldn't they?

Here's the problem for most state legislators:

  • They know if they raise taxes, they will frustrate economic activity and business investment in their state. Raise them too high and investment starts to leave their state and create jobs elsewhere.

    New York used to have 41 Congressmen based on their population. Today, they only have 29. Think the high tax rates in NY have had anything to do with that relative exodus?
  • They also know that state budgets are like air-filled balloons that kids jump on at the lake in summer camp. Jump on one end with a heavy kid jumping off a 30-foot ladder and the light kid on the other end gets shot up into air at the other end like a rocket.

    Same thing with budgets. Spend more on Medicaid and you will have less to spend on other state budget items.  Such as teacher salaries, roads and higher education.
Fortunately, there are solutions for this unabated growth in Medicaid. One of the most important and effective is states going to Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) where states contract with private companies who enroll Medicaid patients into their network of care.

Not only do such arrangements save tons of money for state taxpayers and legislators, they provide more personalized, directed care for the very people Medicaid was supposed to provide high-quality care for in the first place.

For example, each Medicaid recipient is enrolled either voluntarily or randomly into a health program administered by the private company and that private company assigns a caseworker, if you will, to help 'manage' the health of the Medicaid person and their family.

Not just the 'health care costs' of the person or family when they get ill and need services. The 'health care' of the person.

People are taught to floss their teeth every day and brush their teeth after meals. Such attention to basic detail helps prevent the onset of many diseases since 35% of all diseases can be traced back to poor, if any, dental hygiene.

Medicaid patients are enrolled in anti-smoking programs; weight-reduction clinics and general revamping of their diets from starchy, fatty, sugary food and drinks to healthy fruits and vegetables and water.

Sounds like a program we all should be a part of, yes? We could all lose 5, 10, 15 or 50 pounds today, right?

Providing such common-sense health care solutions to Medicaid patients has the ancillary benefit of freeing up close to $1 billion per year in a state the size of North Carolina out of its $14 billion annual Medicaid budget.

The state share of that amount of annual savings is approximately $350 million. Per year. As in 'Annually'. 'From now on' when compared to the existing baseline of expected costs.

Know what the state legislature could pay for with an additional $350 million per year? A 2.3% pay raise for every public education teacher since it costs roughly $150 million for every percentage point increase in pay raises.

Or the University of North Carolina system could have an additional $350 million per year to pay for their escalated costs.

Or the Community College system of North Carolina could have $350 million more per year to pay their professors and buy new equipment to train the workforce of North Carolina for tomorrow, not yesterday.

Or provide another tax cut of some magnitude to state taxpayers so they could spend it as they wish.

Or reduce the state corporate income tax by 30% overnight and help drive North Carolina towards truly being an 'corporate income tax-free zone' where state tax credit incentives are no longer needed to attract business to NC...because there would already be zero corporate income tax to pay in the first place!

If you care about teacher pay; the UNC system, community colleges or tax cuts, we strongly urge you to get, download and read 'The Economics of Medicaid' which is simply the easiest-to-read compendium of facts and figures about Medicaid that has ever been written.

Or at least 'the easiest to read that we have read over these past 34 years'...and we have read them all from the 'Green Book' to the 'Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund Annual Reports'

Once you understand the severity of the stakes in how North Carolina deals with Medicaid, contact your state senator and representative and tell them to support a move to MCOs, managed care networks, in the state budget.

Anything less than that will not yield the savings you may want to see go to teachers or UNC instead. And then we will all still be in this quandary next year, and the next year, and the next year and then we will realize we will never fix these problems.


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Sunday, May 18, 2014

'Supply-Side Economics' Version 1.0, 1924 Style

Former President George H.W. Bush 41 once called Ronald Reagan's 'supply-side economics' 'voo-doo economics' when he was running against Mr. Reagan for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination.

And then after 8 years as Vice President to President Reagan, President Bush actually took the necessary steps to implement the first critical spending cut part of those same 'voo-doo economics' when he elevated to the White House in 1989 as the first sitting incumbent VP to do so in over 150 years.

What President Reagan and then President Bush 41 were trying to emulate was the spectacular record of President Calvin Coolidge from 1923-1929 who implemented a policy of spending cuts plus tax cuts that led to some of the most solid and spectacular economic growth and job creation this nation had ever seen at the time.

Instead of wanting the next Republican President to be 'Just Like Reagan', conservatives would be well-advised to be looking for the 'Next Calvin Coolidge'.

His policies worked. We need his policies to come back to reinvigorate the US economy and bring millions of people back to work again.

President Coolidge and his Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon did a pretty savvy thing with Secretary Mellon's 'scientific taxation' as they called it at the time. It was nothing more than 'supply-side economics' dot.1.0 version.

President Coolidge was somewhat of a flinty New England skinflint to begin with. Being frugal not only with his money but especially the money of the taxpayer of the state he governed as Governor, Massachusetts but then the United State, he brought new deep meaning to the word 'parsimonious'.

President Coolidge met with his budget director in person every single week. Compare that priority with the priority of other Presidents; depending on which President you choose, you find that others met with the defense secretary every week for lunch or their tax reform advisors. President Obama apparently has met a lot with people from the IRS although the White House is not very forthcoming with the nature of each of those talks, although we do know that Lois Lerner is somehow involved with them.

Coolidge's predisposition to being frugal with the taxpayer's dollar as if it was his own let him to cut the ever-loving heck out of federal spending first, so much so that they even sold a barrel of spoiled seal shoulder blubber/meat for $20 for crab bait instead of throwing it away as waste. Coolidge issued 1 pencil per federal employee and wouldn't replace it unless it was worn to a nub and the people could produce it as evidence before trade-in.

He cut the federal workforce from 500,000 to 400k federal employees, a 20% whack.

And THEN they started cutting taxes because the surplus was building annually and it became a self-fulfilling prophecy: spending cuts produced surplus; surplus produced tax cuts, tax cuts produced more job growth and tax revenues from those jobs in income tax and excise taxes...and then the cycle started again.

For about 4 years straight beginning in 1925, he pulled that magic off. There really is no 'magic' to it. It is basic fundamental economics and common-sense federal budgeting. Something we have not been close to since the glorious 4 years under former President Bill Clinton when he let his Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles negotiate a balanced budget deal with the Republican leaders in Congress and the Senate in 1996-1997.

President Bush 41 got the ball rolling in 1990 when he advocated, pushed for and then signed the Budget Act of 1990 that instituted the maligned but very effective PAYGO budget mechanism. For about 11 years, PAYGO forced every Congressman and US Senator who wanted to expand federal spending to propose the taxes, or the spending cuts elsewhere, to pay for it. Conversely, anyone who wanted to cut taxes had to propose the spending cuts to pay for it or specific tax hikes elsewhere to make it 'budget-neutral'.

As in: 'not increase the budget deficit over what it was estimated to be based on CBO's projected baseline forecasts each year'. It. Worked. Marvelously.

No new entitlement such as the Medicare Part D prescription benefit could have been passed in 2003 without specific payroll tax hikes or entitlement cuts in other programs to pay for it. Bush 41's son, Bush 43, conveniently did away with PAYGO in 2001-2002 to do what, students?

Pass the Bush Tax Cuts without the attendant political 'pain and suffering' of finding spending cuts like Calvin Coolidge would have demanded before passing any tax cut! The Bush 43 Administration was as adverse to spending cuts as any we have seen over the past 30 years and he had a compliant, and now apologetic GOP who controlled both houses of Congress that went along with his misguided spending policies.

Obamacare? The ACA would have never passed had PAYGO been in force in 2009-2010. You think any Democrat in Congress or the Senate would have stood up and said this in public?
'The ACA is going to cost at least $1 trillion, perhaps $2-3 trillion when all is said and done. Therefore, on the behalf of President Barack Obama and the National Democratic Party, I am proposing that payroll taxes be increased by 50% in each of the next 4 years in succession to pay for it'

The Tea Party Revolution in 2010 would have picked up 163 seats instead of just 63. The Democrat Party today would be as relevant as 'tits on a bull' as Senator Alan Simpson was fond of saying.

Four years of budget surplus allowed close to $500 billion of national debt to be retired during Clinton's second term. Clinton left office with about $3.3 trillion in debt held by the general public (as opposed to the somewhat fictitious 'gross debt' which includes intragovernmental transfers).

Today the debt under Obama is about $14 trillion in debt held by the general public and it is heading to about $18 trillion when he leaves office.

Sheer brilliance, persistence, and genius in federal budgeting and fiscal management in President Calvin Coolidge showed what could be done in the White House by someone who was serious about protecting America's financial and fiscal health.

Don't you agree we need the 'next Calvin Coolidge' in the White House and not the next (fill in the blank)?

(from 'Coolidge' by Amity Schlaes. Pick it up and read it. It is not on the order of the gripping and arresting writer style of Ron Chernow, author of 'Hamilton' and 'Washington' but it is chock full of examples and exhaustive historical data if you are interested in that sort of thing)

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

'We Are Living In The Worst Period of Political History In America!'

The Caning of Charles Sumner
We were talking to a friend yesterday who bemoaned the fact that 'politics is so partisan today'.

'How can we ever expect to get anything done?' is what he went on to say. 'We will never solve any of these big problems facing us today!'

Well, never is a long time. And if that were so, we would all still British colonists sipping tea every afternoon, wouldn't we?

We have a theory about politics that we would like to throw at you for your consideration today:
'Politics always seems worse the more you are involved or affected by it' 
For example, today people are complaining about Obamacare; high taxes, global warming, budget deficits, huge national debt, abortion, women's rights, racism and general insensitivity. Each of these issues hits everyone differently; some care more about 1 or 2 of the issues; others care more about some of the others but not the first two and so on.

It is enough to drive some people into despair.

Relax. We are actually living in perhaps one of the most 'civil', 'sane' and 'safe' periods of time in American history. Really. Hard to believe, isn't it? But it is true.

The strange thing about 'tough times' in American history? They usually cause huge conflicts of opinion and interest about what to do next. Then somehow, someway, great leaders emerge and lead us to the next level of the truly unique American story.

These ideas collide like huge thunderclouds that gather on either end of the sky and crash into each other causing loud thunder and sends out all kind of lightning and then it rains like there is no tomorrow.

And is all over and the sun starts to shine again.

In the end, we have survived it all, haven't we? We have, in case you are totally in the dumps at this point in time.

For those who say: 'This is the worst time in American History!' we only have this to say:

'Really? What about the Great Depression or any of the Panics that seemed to bedevil the American economy every 20 years or so from 1789 to 1930 before they started being called 'recessions' and 'depressions'?

We wonder how many of us could survive in such much harder times. For many of us, losing our IPhone is such a big disaster that it ruins our whole day...until we pick up another one at the local Apple store or ATT.

How about the issues? Surely there were never any deeper divides in American history than we currently experience in the abortion debate, the gun debate, the gay rights debate or the race debate.

Has anyone ever heard of the 'Civil War' by any chance?

600,000 people, mostly white people fighting other white people over the contentious issue of freedom for slaves, died while prosecuting the war over a bloody 4-year period.

Very doubtful we will ever see that sort of carnage in America ever again over any contentious issue, wouldn't you have to agree? At least we all hope so.

US Senators used to shoot each other over issues on which they disagreed!  Henry Clay participated in at least 2 duels with other elected officials. A flipping sitting US VICE-PRESIDENT, Aaron Burr, mortally wounded former Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton in a duel at Weehauken, New Jersey  in perhaps the greatest and most well-known display of not agreeing to disagree in an agreeable manner in US history.

Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina sought to defend the honor of his relative, Democratic Senator Andrew Brooks also of South Carolina in 1851 when he almost caned Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts to death on the floor of the US Senate! You can still see the stains of the blood from Senator Sumner on the marble floor.

Granted, Sumner could have used less pejorative language than he did in his 'Crime Against Kansas' speech in the debate over the hot issue of admitting Kansas as a free or slave state.

Here's what he said that got Brooks so agitated in the first place:
'(Senator) Sumner identified two Democratic senators as the principal culprits in this crime—Stephen Douglas of Illinois and Andrew Butler of South Carolina.  He characterized Douglas to his face as a "noise-some, squat, and nameless animal . . . not a proper model for an American senator." 
Andrew Butler, who was not present, received more elaborate treatment.  Mocking the South Carolina senator's stance as a man of chivalry, the Massachusetts senator charged him with taking "a mistress . . . who, though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight—I mean," added Sumner, "the harlot, Slavery.' *
'Them's fighting words' as they used to say.

It took a Civil War for the US to settle the issue of slavery. Hardly the optimal outcome for settling political disputes, is it?

However, on most other hot political issues in America, be it women's suffrage, civil rights, prohibition, the gold standard, the silver standard or even the most basic issue of allowing small states 2 votes in the US Senate at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 which caused all sorts of enmity and alarm, the political process has grinded and grinded and grinded, sometimes to a halt, but seemingly always inexorably towards a viable and workable outcome for the nation as a whole.

The same will most likely be true about these tough issues we face today as well. In 200 years, future historians will look back on early 21st century America and wonder out loud:
'What the heck was a 'debt ceiling' anyway?'
If American history hadn't worked the way it has under our (mostly) civil form of government, we would have been done for as a democratic republic long ago. Granted, many people have lost their lives fighting for what they believed in be it civil rights, women's rights or even abortion in today's heated cauldron.

But we are nowhere near as fractured as the country was prior to the Civil War. And we are not anywhere near the economic condition our parents and grandparents were in from 1930-1942; just ask them if they are still alive and they will tell you so.

Democracies and democratic republics are perhaps the most fragile of all governments. As Donald Kagan says in his great book, 'Pericles of Athens' (1991):

(Democracy) relies on "free, autonomous and self-reliant" citizens and "extraordinary leadership" to flourish, even survive...These kinds of citizens aren't born—they need to be educated'

We think that is what is missing in today's political environment: 'Extraordinary Leaders'. We know they are out there. You might be one of them.

So next time someone starts wringing their hands about the current state of American politics, give them a brown paper bag to breath into and a cold glass of water to drink and ask them if they have ever heard of Preston Brooks.

That should shake them up some.

*taken from the US Senate art and history website:

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

When Will This Slow Economy Ever End?

'Now, if we raise spending here and
taxes there, Coach K,
the economy will really expand!'
Maybe not until 2017 when President Obama leaves office?

Some disturbing news just came out this week that the economy might have contracted in the 1st quarter of 2014, not expanded.

No, not in the Ukraine or Afghanistan or some third world country.

In the United States of America. Right here where we live.

The disturbing news came out in the Washington Post, which, of course, we all know has been a bastion of stark-raving mad lunatics over the past 5 years with all of their harsh and unfair criticisms of the policies of the Obama Administration across-the-board.

Ylan Q. Mui covers the Federal Reserve and the economy for the Washington Post.  She has this to say about the recently released economic numbers:
'Today the Census Bureau released new data on construction spending that were weaker than not only the consensus forecast  but also the government’s estimates in its calculations of the nation’s gross domestic product....
Do the math, and you’ve got an economy that contracted by 0.1 percent in the first quarter -- and that might be the optimistic case. Barclays economist Cooper Howes said his calculations show a 0.2 percent decline.
In either case, it would represent the worst performance for the recovery in three years.'
Immediately after the release of these meager gains, White House officials claimed that it was all due to the bad weather and snowstorms we had this past winter.

That may be true to some extent; when people are holed up in their homes due to blizzards and can't get to work where they can make or build things, economic activity declines.

But look at the gorilla in the living room here: There was no great surge of economic activity overall that could have mitigated such bad weather in parts of the country in the first place!

Think about this: If we had 'normal' and 'typical' robust economic activity coming out of the 2009 Great Recession that usually occurs in almost all economic recoveries in American history, the bad weather may have cut 0.1 or even 0.5% off of a high GDP growth rate, say 4% per year.

However, when you have slow or low economic growth to begin with, any disruption due to weather can, and will, take us into contraction territory for the economy. We have suffered meteorological catastrophes and snowpocalypses in the past that have not driven us into recessionary territory, mainly because our economy was on much more sound footing at the time.

We have made no bones about our disagreement with the economic policies of President Obama. We don't believe he or his advisors have any clue or inclination to unleash the economic engines of American entrepreneurship and job creation through the private sector first.

Instead, the Obama White House stays laser-focused on the failed policies of top-down government management of our economy which has failed many times in the past around the globe. Even China has come to realize that private sector free-market capitalism is the best way to try to get their hundreds of millions of people a job.

Now we have 5 years of empirical proof and evidence that not only have his economic policies failed but there appears to be no economic explosion in the offing even at this late point in his presidency.

The reasons are many:
  • Obamacare has thrown a wet blanket on all business hiring from large corporations on down to small companies
  • His economic stimulus package relied far too much on redistributing income to government workers and not enough incentives to businessmen and women to take more risks and expand their businesses more rapidly
  • President Obama has failed to give the economic engines of our economy, the small businesses and new start-ups, the confidence they need to more rapidly invest and expand their operations which, in turn, would necessitate the hiring of more people who then spend more money etc. in an ever-increasing spiral upwards of economic activity and prosperity for everyone.
You know by now that we are fond of citing otherwise boring government statistics, mainly because we had to bore through them for 12 years on Capitol Hill as a staffer.

Well, here's something to put in your Metamucil this morning to stir things up:

Despite the apparent 'good news' in the 288,000 jobs that were created last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has this to say about the current job market, and we quote:
'The civilian labor force dropped by 806,000 in April, following an increase of
503,000 in March.
The labor force participation rate fell by 0.4 percentage points to 62.8 percent in April.
The participation rate has shown no clear trend in recent months and currently is the same as it was this past October.
The employment-population ratio showed no change over the month (58.9 percent) and
has changed little over the year.'

In short, more and more people are dropping out of the workforce, some because they have reached the point where they can retire but most of them because they can't find a job.

806,000 people dropping out of the workforce in one month is a simply stunning number when you consider the whole American workforce is about 143 million people.

.5% of all workers 'just left the building' in the last 30 days alone.

We know there are still many people who love what President Obama is doing and has done in the White House. But that number is steadily diminishing, none more so than in the self-described or actually-registered Independent/Unaffiliated voting bloc of Americans. His approval amongst Independents has crashed down to the mid-30's from his high of 62% on his First Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009.

Here's something else to contemplate: If President Obama was a NBA coach, he would probably be fired by his owners for failure to perform. Other coaches have been fired for having far better records than we have seen economically for the past 5 years, you know.

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