Dan Diamond, who follows healthcare policy and economics for Politico.com, has been keeping track of jobs reports for a long time, Joan McCarter noted at DailyKos.com (8/8). In March 2015, Diamond wrote at Forbes.com on the fifth anniversary of enactment of the Affordable Care Act, “amid Republican cries that the ACA was a job-killer. To put that more plainly: The private sector hasn’t lost jobs since Obamacare was officially created.

“Were Republicans wrong?”

Apparently, yes, Republicans were spectacularly wrong. The private sector has not lost jobs since Obamacare was created. The streak of private job gains reached 76 months in July when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported (8/5) that the economy created 255,000 new nonfarm payroll jobs in July, far above economists’ expectations. The BLS also revised June’s growth in new jobs from 287,000 to 292,000 and May’s from 11,000 to 24,000. All those are seasonally adjusted numbers.

”This was another strong report that checked most, if not all of the significant boxes,” Curt Long, chief economist at the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, told CNBC. “The labor market should remain strong as long as consumers maintain their robust spending pace.”

The total was a combination of 217,000 jobs in the private sector and 38,000 in government, Meteor Blades noted at DailyKos.com (8/5). The unemployment rate remained at 4.9%, though Blades noted the rate differs by race and sex: Adult men 4.6%; Adult women 4.3%; Whites 4.3%; Blacks 8.4%; Asians 3.8%; Hispanics 5.4%; Teenagers: 15.6%, though for teenagers of color, the unemployment rate is usually much higher.

The U6 rate, which includes both unemployment and underemployment, including part-time workers who want a full-time job and “discouraged” workers, in July rose 0.1% to 9.7%.

Among other findings:

• Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees rose 7 cents an hour to $21.59 in July. 

• Average work week for all employees on non-farm payrolls rose in July to 34.5 hours.

• Average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls rose 8 cents an hour in July to $25.69.

• The manufacturing workweek in July remained unchanged at 40.7 hours.

US TRADE DEFICIT UP 8.7%. The US Census Bureau reported (8/5) that the June trade deficit rose to $44.5 bln. This was an increase of 8.7% from May’s $41 bln.

The increase in the trade deficit was almost entirely from rising imports, Dave Johnson noted at OurFuture.org. June’s exports were $183.2 bln, up only $600 mln from May, while imports were up $4.2 bln. So in May we bought much more than we sold from the rest of the world, and in June we bought even more than that.

“For some reason this massive imbalance with our ‘trading’ partners that has us buying so much more than we sell is described as ‘trade,’’ Johnson said. “But if we were really ‘trading’ with them we would not have such an enormous, humongous and continuing trade deficit.

“The June ‘goods’ trade deficit increased $3.8 bln to $66 bln. Imagine if we were engaged in actual ‘trade’ and American factories had $66 bln more in orders in a June. (And another $66 or so billion the following month, and every month.) Imagine the hiring, the suppliers booming, the local stores around the factories booming, the boost in tax revenues to fund schools and health care and science and infrastructure…”

POPE: CAPITALISM IS ‘TERRORISM AGAINST ALL OF HUMANITY.’ Pope Francis surprised reporters on a flight from Krakow to the Vatican (7/31) when he blamed the “god of money” for extremist violence in Europe and the Middle East, saying that a ruthless global economy leads disenfranchised people to violence.

“Terrorism grows when there is no other option, and as long as the world economy has at its center the god of money and not the person,” the pope told reporters, according to the Wall Street Journal. “This is fundamental terrorism, against all humanity.”

The pope was responding to a journalist’s question about whether there is a link between Islam and terrorism, particularly focusing on the fatal attack on a priest by Muslim extremists in France.

“I ask myself how many young people that we Europeans have left devoid of ideals, who do not have work. Then they turn to drugs and alcohol or enlist in [the Islamic State, or ISIS],” he said, Reuters reports.

The pope said that no religion has a monopoly on violence, the Journal noted.

The remarks followed similar comments made July 27, when Pope Francis argued that the current Middle East conflicts are wars over economic and political interests—not religion or so-called “Islamic terrorism.”

“There is war for money,” he said (7/27), according to the WSJ. “There is war for natural resources. There is war for the domination of peoples. Some might think I am speaking of religious war. No. All religions want peace; it is other people who want war.” (Nika Knight, CommonDreams.org, 8/4)

TRUMP’S ‘ECONOMIC RENEWAL’ STARTS WITH DOUBLING DOWN ON FOSSIL FUELS, LESS REGS. Donald Trump sought to reset his campaign in Detroit (8/8) with a speech about the economy to begin “a great conversation about economic renewal for America,” portraying Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as “a nominee of yesterday.”

What does this “complete rethinking” look like? More fossil fuels. And less environmental regulation. A Trump administration would follow the same rhetorical stance on energy as the RNC and the Romney campaign, and the Bush administration’s policy playbook, Ryan Koronoski noted at ThinkProgress.org (8/8).

The 2016 Republican presidential nominee cited “energy reform” as a priority midway through the speech, attacking “the Obama-Clinton war on coal” and boasting how his own plan to cut regulations on the fossil fuel industry would create jobs.

“I am going to cut regulations massively,” Trump said. “Massively.”

Beyond vague anti-regulatory rhetoric, Trump’s speech cited studies from the Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research, the Exxon-funded Heritage Foundation, and the American Petroleum Institute, all purporting to prove the economic ruin wreaked by the Obama administration’s environmental actions.

TRUMP PROPERTIES TAKING A BEATING. Since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, foot traffic to Trump-branded hotels, casinos and golf courses has been down markedly, reported FourSquare, which tracks the mobile phones of millions of its users.

“After he entered the race, his branded properties failed to get their usual summertime traffic gains. In August 2015, the share of people coming to all Trump-branded properties was down 17% from the year before.

“Breaking out Blue States, the loss in foot traffic runs deeper than the national average. For the past five months, Trump’s blue state properties — spread between New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Hawaii — have taken a real dip, with diminishing visits starting in March and a widening gap that continues straight through July, when share fell 20% versus July 2015.

“When we dissect this traffic further, we see that the market share losses have been driven by a fall-off among women. Trump properties have seen a double-digit decrease in visits from women this year, with a gap that widened starting in March 2016.

“Like pollsters and data scientists have been doing for decades, we normalize our data against US census data, ensuring that our panel of millions accurately matches the US population to remove any age or gender bias (though urban geographies are slightly over-represented in our panel).”

Kevin Drum, who noted the report at MotherJones.com (8/4), commented, “Sad!”

TRUMP TAJ MAHAL TO CLOSE AFTER LABOR DAY. The Atlantic City, N.J., hotel-casino once owned by GOP nominee Donald Trump will close for good after Labor Day weekend, according to reports.

“Currently the Taj is losing multi-millions a month, and now with this strike we see no path to profitability,” announced Tony Rodio, president and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment, the gaming affiliate of Icahn Enterprises. “Unfortunately, we’ve reached the point where we have will to have to close the Taj after Labor Day weekend and intend to send WARN notices to before this weekend.”

Icahn Enterprises’ namesake, billionaire Carl, purchased Taj Mahal — rescuing it from bankruptcy — from Trump Entertainment Resorts in 2014.

Taj Mahal employees — members of the Unite-HERE union’s Local 54 chapter — have been striking since 7/1.

KRUGMAN WARNS ‘NO RIGHT TURN’ FOR CLINTON. As some prominent Republicans have not just refused to endorse Donald Trump, but actually have declared their support for Hillary Clinton, some commentators have called on her to turn right, to move the Democratic agenda toward the preferences of those fleeing the sinking Republican ship, but Paul Krugman warned in the New York Times (8/5) that she should resist that temptation.

As Krugman noted, “First of all, let’s be clear about what she’s running on. It’s an unabashedly progressive program, but hardly extreme. We’re talking about higher taxes on high incomes, but nowhere near as high as those taxes were for a generation after World War II; expanded social programs, but nothing close to those of European welfare states; stronger financial regulation and more action on climate change, but aren’t the cases for both overwhelming?

“And no, the program doesn’t need to be more ‘pro-growth.’ There’s absolutely no evidence that tax cuts for the rich and radical deregulation, which is what right-wingers mean when they talk about pro-growth policies, actually work, or that strengthening the social safety net does any harm. Bill Clinton presided over a bigger boom than Ronald Reagan; the Obama years have seen much more private job creation than the Bush era, even before the crash, with job growth actually accelerating after taxes went up and Obamacare went into effect.

The most important thing to boost the US economy, he wrote, “would be to take advantage of very low government borrowing costs to greatly expand public investment — which is something progressives support but conservatives oppose. So enough already with the notion that being on the center-left somehow means being anti-growth.”

Grand coalitions sometimes have a place in politics, as a response to crises that are neither party’s fault But that’s not what is happening here, he noted. “Trumpism is basically a creation of the modern conservative movement, which used coded appeals to prejudice to make political gains, then found itself unable to rein in a candidate who skipped the coding.

“If some conservatives find this too much and bolt the party, good for them, and they should be welcomed into the coalition of the sane. But they can’t expect policy concessions in return. When Dr. Frankenstein finally realizes that he has created a monster, he doesn’t get a reward. Mrs. Clinton and her party should stay the course.”

RIGHT-WING PROVOCATEUR O’KEEFE FLOPS IN ELECTION FRAUD SCAM. Brian Dickerson, a writer for the Detroit Free Press, mocked conservative activist James O’Keefe for his attempt to impersonate him in a failed effort to catch voter fraud on tape for one of his “sting” videos.

In a video posted on Youtube, O’Keefe tells a poll worker at a precinct in Birmingham, Mich., that he would like to cast a ballot but lost his driver’s license while hunting. Michigan requires a photo ID, but allows non-ID holders to vote with an affidavit.

After a call to the Birmingham city clerk’s office, the worker tells O’Keefe he can vote after he signs affidavit affirming he is Dickerson. O’Keefe does not sign the affidavit or vote, but he claims victory in proving that voting laws are too lax — especially after the poll worker seems to doubt that O’Keefe is actually Dickerson, but hands him a ballot anyway. He then goes to the clerk’s office to confront City Clerk Laura Pierce with the tape of the worker handing him the ballot.

But Dickerson’s column (8/3) suggests that O’Keefe left out some key details in his cut of the video, which was promoted on Drudge and various conservative websites. For one, Dickerson said, the poll worker Cindy Rose is an acquaintance.

“Rose and I know each other pretty well. I see her every time I vote, and far more frequently in the nearby park where I walk my dog,” Dickerson said. “And it’s not just me; Rose has been a volunteer in my precinct for nine years running, and she recognizes most of the voters she encounters every Election Day.”

Had O’Keefe signed the affidavit, he would have committed a felony under Michigan law. But instead of signing it, O’Keefe headed over to the clerk’s office to tape his confrontation. “Which is smart, because by this time Rose has called the Birmingham city clerk’s office, where another acquaintance of mine, Deputy Clerk Cheryl Arft, informs her that she accepted an absentee ballot from the real Brian Dickerson a day earlier,” Dickerson wrote. “In the video, Rose chooses not to share this intelligence with the intrepid impostor, curious to see how far he will press his scheme.”

Even if Dickerson hadn’t yet voted absentee already, a forged affidavit would have wrung some alarm bells, Dickerson said.

Pierce, the city clerk, told Dickerson that if the columnist hadn’t voted absentee and had come to vote after an impersonator had voted in his name, the worker would have confirmed Dickerson was Dickerson with an ID, and then called the police.

Dickerson added that the Birmingham police proactively opened an investigation into whether O’Keefe had committed any crime by verbally misrepresenting himself to the poll workers, but that the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office appeared to not be pursuing the case it “had bigger fish to fry,” Dickerson wrote.

“James O’Keefe is a professional liar,” Dickerson said. “He just isn’t very good at it.” (Tierney Sneed, TalkingPointsMemo.com, 8/5)

NUCLEAR PLANTS LOSE MONEY AT ASTONISHING RATES. Half of existing nuclear power plants are no longer profitable, Joe Romm writes at ThinkProgress.org (8/8). Some have tried to blame renewable energy for this, but Romm said the astounding price drops of renewables aren’t the primary cause of the industry’s woes  —  cheap fracked gas is.

“The point of blaming renewables, which currently receive significant government subsidies, is apparently to argue that existing nukes deserve some sort of additional subsidy to keep running — beyond the staggering $100+ billion in subsidies the nuclear industry has received over the decades. But a major reason solar and wind energy receive federal subsidies — which are being phased out over the next few years — is because they are emerging technologies whose prices are still rapidly coming down the learning curve, whereas nuclear is an incumbent technology with a negative learning curve.

“The renewable red herring aside, existing nukes can make a reasonable case for a modest subsidy on the basis of climate change — though only because they are often replaced by carbon-spewing gas plants. That said, the “$7.6 billion bailout” New York state just decided to give its nuclear plants appears to be way too large …”

COAL JOBS DECLINE WITH OR WITHOUT FED REGS. Amid the federal government’s reform of coal-leasing nationwide, new environmental regulations and coalmine cutbacks and layoffs, a new report from the Energy Information Administration suggests things are likely to get even grimmer for coal mining in Western states, Paige Blankenbuehler reported at HCN.com.

The report, published 7/21, states that contraction of the coal mining industry is likely to continue. Across the West, coal production is projected to decline by about 26%, or 230 million tons, between 2015 and 2040. Those declines are already underway: A wave of coal mining layoffs have hit Colorado’s Western Slope and Wyoming’s Powder River mines as more coal companies have cut back production. 

The report found that while regulations under the Clean Power Plan lead to sharper declines in the industry, coal jobs would plummet even without federal constraints. Without the Clean Power Plan, which was implemented in February 2016 and is currently stayed by the Supreme Court, national coal production would remain close to 2015 levels, already the industry’s 40-year low, through 2040. While the EIA’s report shows that federal regulations have played a part in industry decline, historically cheap natural gas has outcompeted coal, making it harder for coal companies to stay in business.

Many coal-mining communities in the region, like Paonia, Colo., where High Country News is based, formed around and depended almost entirely on coal economies. Here, the urgent need to fill economic gaps and adopt practical transition plans has not yet been met. “If you are a resource-dependent economy, you are much more vulnerable to forces you don’t control,” says Luke Danielson, an attorney for the Sustainable Development Strategies Group. “The West will continue to be a region where natural resources are extremely important, but we need to respond to community impacts and help them make the transition away from coal.”

According to HCN data compiled from local media and energy industry reports, more than 2,600 coal-mining jobs have disappeared since 2012 across the West.

SAM BROWNBACK’S LOSS IN KANSAS IS EVERYONE ELSE’S GAIN. The good news out of Kansas goes much deeper than the end of US Rep. Tim Huelskamp’s career in the House, Charles P. Pierce noted at Esquire.com (8/4). “Tuesday night’s elections for that state’s legislature were a thousand-pound dungbomb on the head of Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has pretty much demolished his state by turning it into a lab rat for every crackpot notion that Arthur Laffer ever had.

“The Topeka Capital Journal has all the gory, but glorious, details,” Pierce noted.

“Frustration driving outcomes Tuesday led to losses by eight Republican incumbents in the House and six veteran Republicans in the Senate. In Democratic primaries, however, only one legislative incumbent lost—Topeka Rep. Ben Scott. Moderate Republicans seeking re-election held their ground, including Sen. Vicki Schmidt in Topeka. In combination with decisions by two-dozen conservative GOP representatives and senators to not seek re-election, slight gains by moderate Republicans or Democrats in the November election could give rise to a coalition capable of blunting the Brownback administration on tax, education, budget and judicial policy. Former Kansas Gov. John Carlin, part of a new anti-Brownback advocacy group, Save Kansas Coalition, with past governors Mike Hayden, Bill Graves and Kathleen Sebelius, said post-mortems on the primary exposed opportunity in the fall to further transform the base of influence at the Statehouse.”

Pierce commented, “It is going to take Kansas decades to recover from Brownback’s political malpractice. And, while I suspect the new legislature is going to be short on Sherrod Browns, it’s also going to be made up of sensible people who do not believe that a fantastical economic theory is some sort of fundamentalist religion. That, at least, is a start.”

BILLIONAIRE BONANZA AS WEALTH SURGES AMONG 1%. A new study has found that the number of billionaires reached an all-time high in 2015 at the same time that their portfolios and piggy banks also continued to grow to record proportions, Lauren McCauley reported at CommonDreams.org (8/8).

According to the 2015-2016 Billionaire Census by international market research firm Wealth-X, which bills itself as “the global authority on wealth intelligence,” the billionaire population grew by 6.4% last year and now totals 2,473 people worldwide. The combined wealth of those individuals also increased by 5.4%, amounting to $7.7 tln—which is more than every country’s gross domestic product (GDP), except the United States ($17.9 tln) and China ($11 tln).

Billionaires, defined as individuals with a net worth of $1 bln or above, are not all created equal. While North America trails Europe in the number of billionaires—628 compared with 806, respectively—they hold more wealth ($2,561 bln vs. $2,330 bln) than their cross-Atlantic compatriots.

Wealth-X attributes the overall billionaire population growth largely to inherited wealth. According to the report, “billionaires with partially inherited wealth continue to be the fastest growing segment of this population, up 29.9% year on year, while responsible for nearly two thirds of total billionaire additions.”

Also, Wealth-X found that fear of a global market collapse has prompted many to liquidate their assets, further shoring up their wealth and adding to the overall rise in combined net worth.

FACT CHECKERS REBUT TRUMP’S ‘PATHETIC’ ECONOMIC LIES IN REAL TIME. Washington Post fact-checkers Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee rebutted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “pathetic, even embarrassing” falsehoods in real time as Trump gave an address before the Detroit Economic Club (8/8).

Kessler has criticized the media for being reluctant to “challenge Trump when he makes a claim that already has been found to be false” and allowing Trump to make “Four-Pinocchio statements over and over again.” According to Kessler, Trump’s willingness to repeatedly lie is “off the charts.”

As Trump attempted to “reset his campaign” with the Detroit speech, Kessler and Lee fact-checked his remarks and found at least 11 lies and/or mischaracterizations:

The first lie was Trump’s claim that Hillary Clinton had admitted, in a speech in Omaha, Neb., that she wants to “raise taxes on the middle class.”

PolitiFact checked a similar claim (8/5) and found that, instead of saying “we’re going to write fairer rules for the middle class and we are going to raise taxes on the middle class,” as the Trump campaign claimed in an email blast, the transcript, numerous reporters, experts and a computer program showed that Clinton said the exact opposite, that “we aren’t going to raise taxes on the middle class.”

The next lie was when Trump seized on an odd turn of phrase for another line of attack. He claimed that Clinton said she “short-circuited” when talking about the FBI investigation of her emails. That statement was made 8/5, and within a day the Trump campaign released a video ad on Facebook that portrayed the former secretary of state as a malfunctioning robot. Trump further attacked her mental capacity, declaring, “I think the people of this country don’t want somebody that’s going to short-circuit up here.”

But this another case of creating a false narrative, Trump claimed that Clinton said she “short-circuited” when talking about the FBI investigation of her emails. Kessler said Clinton did not say she herself “short-circuited,” but she “may have short-circuited it” [her explanation of her answers to the FBI].

See more at <http://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2016/08/08/fact-checkers-rebut-trump-s-pathetic-economic-lies-real-time/212241>

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2016


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