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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Obama Economic Record: The Worst Five Years Since World War II

From The Center for Vision & Values, Grove City College
By Tracy Miller

Editor’s note: This article first appeared The Daily Caller.

In spite of the claims by President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors regarding his administration’s economic accomplishments, the U.S. economy has grown very slowly in the years since the Great Recession of 2008-09. After four years of slow growth, the latest data reveals that the U.S. economy shrank at a 2.9 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2014.

That figure has been widely reported, but here are some figures that have not been reported, and they are quite eye-opening:

Over the first five years of Obama’s presidency, the U.S. economy grew more slowly than during any five-year period since just after the end of World War II, averaging less than 1.3 percent per year. If we leave out the sharp recession of 1945-46 following World War II, Obama looks even worse, ranking dead last among all presidents since 1932. No other president since the Great Depression has presided over such a steadily poor rate of economic growth during his first five years in office. This slow growth should not be a surprise in light of the policies this administration has pursued.

An economy usually grows rapidly in the years immediately following a recession. As Peter Ferrera points out in Forbes, the U.S. economy has not even reached its long run average rate of growth of 3.3 percent; the highest annual growth rate since Obama took office was 2.8 percent. Total growth in real GDP over the 19 quarters of economic recovery since the second quarter of 2009 has been 10.2 percent. Growth over the same length of time during previous post-World War II recoveries has ranged from 15.1 percent during George W. Bush’s presidency to 30 percent during the recovery that began when John F. Kennedy was elected.

Economic growth is usually faster than normal following a recession as entrepreneurs find more productive ways to employ the resources that were idle during the recession. How rapidly the economy grows and recovers depends partly on whether market forces are allowed to allocate resources, including labor, to their most productive uses. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has pursued several policies that make it harder for market forces to work. These include: bailouts, expansion of entitlement programs, regulation of the economy, tax increases, and huge government deficits.

Bailouts have resulted in capital being stuck in businesses that are either inefficiently run or have failed to produce goods and services that consumers’ value highly. In the absence of bailouts, some firms would have gone bankrupt and the capital reallocated to vibrant firms that are producing what consumers demand in a cost-effective way.

Expansion of government entitlement programs, such as food stamps and unemployment compensation, has reduced the incentive to be employed. The average benefit per recipient of food stamps jumped by approximately 25 percent between 2007 and 2010 due to rule changes. It also became easier to qualify for food stamps. As Richard Vedder points out in a Wall Street Journal editorial, the number of food stamp recipients rose by over 7 million between 2010 and 2012, a period of falling unemployment.

A number of changes associated with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (the economic stimulus package passed after Obama was elected) resulted in greater after-tax benefits to being unemployed. These include exempting part of unemployment insurance benefits from federal income taxes and subsidizing health insurance costs for laid off workers. Unemployment benefits also were extended for up to 99 weeks. In addition, the federal government developed mortgage modification formulas for banks to use, which resulted in a bigger reduction in interest payments for those with lower incomes.

The combined effect of a more generous food stamp program, more generous benefits for unemployed workers and mortgage modification formulas is to offset a considerable percentage of the reduction in income from being unemployed. This results in less incentive to work. If less people work, less output is produced and real GDP grows more slowly.

In addition to the policies described above, health care reform has also likely contributed to less employment and output in the economy. By requiring all firms employing more than 50 workers to provide health insurance coverage, the Affordable Care Act has discouraged some firms from hiring workers, while giving other firms an incentive to reduce hours or lay off workers.

Finally, uncertainty about the future direction of the economy has resulted in fixed investment that is only 93 percent as high as it was in 2006. This uncertainty likely stems from a combination of recent bailouts, huge and unsustainable government deficits, Federal Reserve monetary policy and growing government regulation such as Dodd-Frank and health care reform. Investment is what makes workers more productive thereby driving economic growth.

Although some of the policies responsible for slow growth began before Obama took office, he has expanded those policies and added new ones as well. It is necessary that those policies be reversed if the U.S. economy is going to again grow as rapidly as it did during most of the 20th century. Such growth is vital both as a means to lift people out of poverty and  to raise the revenue necessary to pay for Social Security and Medicare benefits to a growing population of retirees. Unfortunately, in the meantime, the lack of growth under Barack Obama during the last five years has been literally the worst for any president since World War II.

Dr. Tracy C. Miller is an associate professor of economics at Grove City College and fellow for economic theory and policy with The Center for Vision & Values. He holds a Ph.D. from University of Chicago.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sexual Left Shocked by Organized Pro-Lifers in Europe

Left-wing and mainstream media are slowly catching on there’s something happening in Europe, with a rapidly growing conservative movement that looks an awful lot like the same movement here.

This was true exponentially for BuzzFeed’s Lester Feder, who was hired last year to cover the global LGBT movement. Rather quickly Feder discovered a highly organized global coalition of conservatives working in opposition to the sexual left. 

For his 3,000-word take-out on the rise of the “European religious right,” Feder began:

“On a hot Friday in late June, the walls of a 15th-century marble palace in a secluded corner of the Vatican were lit up with the face of Breitbart News Chairman Steve Bannon.”

After opening a Breitbart London bureau a few months ago, and after hosting five hours of live radio from the Vatican around the Canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII, it made sense that Bannon would be invited by conference organizer Benjamin Harnwell, an old hand at the European Parliament, founder of the Dignitatus Humanae Institute and self-described European Tea Partier.

Piped in by Skype, Bannon told the VIP crowd:

We [Breitbart] believe – strongly – that there is a global tea party movement. You’re seeing a global reaction to centralized government, whether that government is in Beijing, or that government is in Washington, D.C., or that government is in Brussels… On the social conservative side, we’re the voice of the anti-abortion movement, the voice of the traditional marriage movement.

Bannon later admitted a bit of shock that he was speaking directly into the Vatican.

The evidence for the rise of European conservatism is everywhere. 

Read more at Breitbart >>


Stephen Stone: A Path to Impeachment

By Stephen Stone

In his well-reasoned book in support of the movement to impeach and remove Barack Obama titled Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama's Impeachment, Andrew McCarthy — a former federal prosecutor who got the "Blind Sheik" convicted in 1995 for the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center — argues basically two things:

1. Barack Obama deserves to be impeached and removed for his deliberate subversion of the Constitution and the rule of law, resulting in a multitude of threats to our national security, material strength, and moral stability; and
2. Impeachment of the dangerously lawless Mr. Obama should not be attempted until there is sufficient "public will" to do so — otherwise the attempt might fail to produce his conviction and removal.

Here are a few excerpts from McCarthy’s book —
  • “There is no doubt in my mind that President Obama ought to be impeached and removed from office.” (p.21)
  • “I believe the president should be impeached because I am not confident the nation can withstand nearly three more years of his governance.” (p. 22)
  • “[Obama’s] failure to execute the laws faithfully is a high crime and misdemeanor. [His] systematic faithlessness in this regard imperils our system and our liberties. If the process of impeachment and removal is not seen as a viable option, we are effectively resigning ourselves to the loss of what has made our nation prosperous and free.” (p. 92, emphasis added)
  • “...[T]he Framers saw impeachment as the appropriate response to presidential corruption, lawlessness, and infidelity to the Constitution.” (p. 25)
  • “As a practical matter, impeachment is the only plausible congressional remedy to stop systematic presidential lawlessness.” (p. vi)
  • “The legal grounds — provable high crimes and misdemeanors — are vital to building a political case for impeachment, but the fundamental question is whether the president’s conduct is [seen as] so egregious that the public will support his removal.” (p. viii)
  • “Well, the [‘I’] word needs uttering. Absent a frank discussion of what impeachment is, what it’s for, when it should apply, and why it is necessary (that is, why other remedies are inadequate), we will never know whether political support for impeachment can materialize. (p. 44)
  • “Unless the point of the exercise is mere partisan foot stamping, it is not enough to have sufficient legal grounds for impeachment, even lots and lots of grounds. Real impeachment, removing the president from power, requires political support.... [It] requires moving public opinion.” (pp. 44-45)
This sampling of his words underscores McCarthy’s main contention that the effort to impeach and remove Obama, no matter how justified or well-conceived, must be driven by sufficient political demand among the American people if it is to succeed.

The rest of the book is devoted to laying out a detailed case for Obama’s impeachment and removal — in the form of fifty pages of carefully documented, ready-to-file Articles of Impeachment, followed by extensive notes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The 'Pope Francis Effect': The War on Conservative Catholics in New York

Apr. 17, 2014: Rev. Justin Wylie celebrates Mass at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York. (Courtesy Arrys Ortanez)

When Cardinal Bergoglio was elected pope in 2013, many traditional Catholics were wary. Recently, their pessimism is being justified as "The Francis Effect" makes itself felt across the world and in America, most notably in the Archdiocese of New York.

So-called "traditional" Catholics prefer to attend the Mass as it was celebrated before and during the Second Vatican Council (1962-5), before the liturgy was radically reformed in 1969.

The Tridentine Mass, which was the ordinary form of the Mass from 1570-1969, is said in Latin, often accompanied by Gregorian Chant and incense, and emphasizes the sacrificial aspect of the Mass.
I hope both Pope Francis and the New York Archdiocese will cease their attack on a community of people that mean no harm and who support the Church through thick and thin.
In contrast, the post-1969 Mass simplifies prayers, places more emphasis on the communal and removes language deemed to be an ecumenical barrier to Protestants. Many celebrations also use the vernacular instead of Latin, and have a more simplistic style and are frequently accompanied by modern music.

Although suppressed immediately after the reform, the older rite was legalized by Pope St. John Paul II in limited circumstances in 1988, and then freed up entirely by Pope Benedict XVI in his groundbreaking 2007 document "Summorum Pontificum," in which he also expressed his desire that the solemn celebration of the traditional rite would consequently rub off on the way the new rite is celebrated.

Yet Pope Francis is having none of it. In his Archdiocese in Buenos Aires, the traditional rite was non-existent, and he was described by an Argentinian journalist as "a sworn enemy of the Traditional Mass." Since he ascended to the papacy this has been shown to be true in a global sense.

Read more at Fox News >>