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Mark Caserta: Politicians must learn to put people ahead of politics, power

7 Oct

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Mark Caserta: Free State Patriot Editor

Barack Obama

Last week, I asked the question, “After eight long years of Obama, are you better off?”

For anyone willing to be intellectually honest, the question was a rhetorical one. Frankly, our nation has never been in worse condition. Yet, from the bowels of the progressive prevaricators, we received a deluge of rebuttal.

Liberals leveraging their lexicon of lies continue to try to convince hurting Americans not only are they better off, but frankly should be happy the “anointed one” rode in on his golf cart in 2008 to rescue them from supervillain “Gru” W. Bush and his little red minions.

But, for those just now paying attention to the upcoming election, let’s look at the facts.

Jobs are arguably the primary indicator for our economy, and their availability is “deplorable.”

Liberal Democrats have consistently tried to mislead Americans into believing the job situation is improving when in fact it’s growing increasingly worse. The Obama administration continues to exploit bogus unemployment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Most people don’t realize the ambiguity of the unemployment numbers. These statistics aren’t derived by actually counting unemployed individuals. They’re gathered from a survey called the Current Population Survey (CPS).

Each month, the government conducts the CPS by contacting 60,000 eligible sample households and asking about their “labor force activities” (job holding and job seeking) or non-labor force status of the household’s members. These interviews are supposedly conducted either in person or over the phone. The survey responses are then “weighted,” or adjusted to independent population estimates from the Census Bureau, for the final estimates.

The malleability of these statistics is troubling, especially leading up to this presidential election!

And the current unemployment rate of 4.9 percent is inaccurate since it drops from the equation those who are currently neither working nor looking for work. The U-6 total unemployed number reported by the BLS is actually 9.7 percent. But I believe it’s much higher.

Even this number doesn’t account for individuals driven from their 40-hour work week by Obamacare’s employer mandate and are working multiple jobs to survive.

Furthermore, our nation’s labor force participation rate, at 62.8 percent, is at a 38-year low with a record 94.7 million Americans out of the labor force, according to the BLS.

In December 2008, before the coronation of Barack Hussein Obama, the number was 65.8 percent.

It gets worse.

The real median household income for the United States has decreased from $57,211 in 2008 to $53,657 in 2014. And with soaring prices, even this number isn’t comparing apples to apples.

Tragically, nearly 45 million people are now participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program compared to 30 million pre-Obama, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even so, liberal Democrats tell us we’re better off.

We need honest leaders, with business acumen, who know how to create good-paying jobs.

But they must first be willing to put people ahead of politics and power.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Obama’s war on coal has a cost

6 Aug

And is based on mythical “man-made” global warming.

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Mark Caserta: Free State Patriot Editor

Aug. 06, 2015 @ 12:01 AM
FILE - In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H.  President Barack Obama on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, will unveil the final version of his unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The Obama administration first proposed the rule last year. Opponents plan to sue immediately to stop the rule's implementation. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

FILE – In this Jan. 20, 2015 file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. President Barack Obama on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015, will unveil the final version of his unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions from existing U.S. power plants. The Obama administration first proposed the rule last year. Opponents plan to sue immediately to stop the rule’s implementation. (AP Photo/Jim Cole, File)

Liberals hate fossil fuels and have no plans to incorporate them into any sort of an “all of the above” energy strategy. And as the U.S. coal industry faces increased regulatory pressures from President Obama and his EPA minions, our state as well as others will continue to feel the economic crunch.

U.S. coal is used to generate about 40 percent of our nation’s electricity. As the Environmental Protection Agency, under Obama’s direction, intensifies regulations on the coal industry, expect electricity prices as well as associated costs to rise accordingly. Obama revealed this as part of his environmental plan early in his presidential campaign.

In a 2008 interview with The San Francisco Chronicle, Obama explained that under his plan of cap-and-trade, it was incumbent that our electricity prices should increase. The president’s progressive strategy obviously includes forcing the nation into pursuing green energy alternatives to avoid the mythical damages of carbon dioxide emissions.

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“Under my plan of cap-and-trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket,” Obama told the Chronicle. “Coal-powered plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”

Every time I hear a liberal decry carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) as destroying our planet, I can’t help but wonder if they’ve ever taken a biology course. Literally thousands of laboratory and field experiments have conclusively demonstrated that enriching the air with CO2 stimulates the growth and development of nearly all plants. But apparently facts aren’t important to progressives when it comes to defending climate change.

Just this week, Barack Obama unveiled the final version of his unprecedented plan to clamp down on CO2 emissions from existing U.S. power plants in an effort to cripple the industry.

In the president’s proposal, he’s calling for even steeper cuts on greenhouse emissions than previously expected. Calling it the most significant step the U.S. has ever taken to fight global warming, he plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Obama cites decades of data that he insists proposes we are facing more extreme weather and escalating health problems without tough action.

Opponents of Obama’s actions vow to sue immediately, and plan to ask the courts to put the rule on hold while legal challenges play out. Many states have already threatened not to comply.

Understand that as the price of electricity increases, every industry that relies on this utility will have to cover their losses by either raising their prices or reducing costs. In other words, there will be higher prices and fewer jobs for the American people.

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It’s fundamental economics, which this president simply cannot grasp.

This is yet another attempt by an autocratic, egotistical president to force his progressive ideology upon the American people with total disregard as to the ultimate price we’ll pay.

But, the cost to Americans and our nation has never prevented Barack Obama from his pursuit of fundamental change.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

GOP Slams Obama Economic Speech, Calls for ‘Real Leadership’

4 Oct

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By Todd Beamon

 Republicans blasted President Barack Obama’s economic speech at Northwestern University on Thursday, charging that his remarks merely sought to deflect criticism from his administration’s many debacles and only promoted policies that have set Americans back on several fronts.

“The president can talk about an improving economy, but try telling that to those Americans who are suffering so much in the Obama economy,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “What about the poor and middle-class who can’t find jobs or whose wages have barely budged during the Obama administration?”

Tennessee Rep. Diane Black reference the now-infamous question Ronald Reagan posed that carried him into the White House in 1980.

“When President Reagan asked Americans if they were better off now than before he took office, he did not have to answer the question for them,” Black told Newsmax. “The reason President Obama has to try and convince Americans that they are better off under his policies is because Americans know otherwise.

“Our country continues to suffer from joblessness, stagnant wages, and while the president touts his economic recovery, Americans continue to show great anxiety about our country’s future,” Black added. “Another speech will not change this. The president needs to show real leadership.”

In his speech, President Obama argued that the American economy had improved during his six years in office. He said that the nation had made steady progress and blamed Republicans for rejecting steps said would help American families.

“These truths aren’t incompatible,” he said in a speech coming just four weeks before the congressional elections. “Our broader economy in the aggregate has come a long way, but the gains of recovery aren’t yet broadly shared.”

Obama defended policies ranging from bailing out the automobile industry to Obamacare — adding that his economic policies are on the ballot in November.

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“I am not on the ballot this fall,” the president said. “Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”

He charged the GOP with blocking such initiatives as increasing the minimum wage, refinancing student loans, and extending unemployment benefits — while pushing for bigger tax cuts for the wealthy.

“When push came to shove this year, and Republicans in Congress actually had to take a stand on policies that would help the middle class and working Americans — raising the minimum wage, enacting fair pay, refinancing student loans, extending insurance for the unemployed — the answer was ‘no,’ ” Obama said.

“When nearly all the gains of the recovery have gone to the top 1 percent, when income inequality is at as high a rate as we’ve seen in decades. I find that hard to swallow.”

Ignoring that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has passed more than 40 economic proposals that have stalled in the Democratic-majority Senate, Obama charged that “a true opposition party should have the courage to lay out” its platform for improving the economy.

“If there were any credibility to the argument that says when those at the top do well, eventually everyone else will do well, it would have borne itself out by now,” the president said.

Republicans responded quickly and decisively to President Obama’s speech.

House Speaker John Boehner’s office released his remarks two weeks ago to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington that included a program for “resetting” the American economy.

The agenda included repairing the tax code, cutting government spending, reforming the legal system, reining in regulation, and strengthening education.

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“The president’s economic record is beyond dismal, and families and small businesses are literally paying the price,” Kevin Smith, a Boehner spokesman, told Newsmax.

“Republicans are offering a different approach — and that’s why Speaker Boehner outlined his five-point plan for resetting America’s economic foundation.

“It’s also why House Republicans have passed more than 40 jobs bills, but they’ve been rejected by Harry Reid’s do-nothing Senate,” Smith said.

South Dakota Sen. John Thune called Obama’s speech “a familiar pivot back to jobs and the economy” and released data from a new report by Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee that detailed “the true state of the Obama economy.”

The document reported a $3,000 average yearly decline in household income — and included statistics showing that 9.6 million Americans remained jobless and that gas prices had risen 82 percent during Obama’s years in the White House.

“Congressional Republicans have remained focused like a laser on passing legislation that would help the middle class by creating jobs, growing the economy, and increasing take-home pay,” said Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. “Unfortunately, those solutions are stuck in the Democrat-controlled Senate.”

McConnell accused Obama of “throwing a wet blanket over the economy with its focus on spending, borrowing, taxing and regulating — and those things clearly haven’t worked.

“What about Americans who work in industries that liberals in Washington don’t approve of, like coal?” the Kentucky senator asked. “Congress needs to pass legislation that helps create jobs instead of smothering economic opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus released the GOP’s own agenda — “The Principles of American Renewal” — that he said would seek to unite the party on such issues as national defense, immigration, and conservative family issues.

“If the American people hire us, we’ll be ready on day one,” Priebus said at the George Washington University in Washington. “People know what we’re against. I want to talk about the things we’re for.”

On immigration, Priebus called for stronger border security.

“We must fix our broken immigration system,” he said. “We can’t reward those who break the laws and punish those who lawfully wait in line.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

FOOD STAMP ENROLLMENT AT SUSTAINED HIGH

26 Aug

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President Barack Obama and vulnerable Democrats facing tough midterm elections in 71 days are scrambling to prop up the moribund U.S. economy in the minds of disgruntled voters. However, one of the quickest shorthand economic measurements–food stamp enrollments–paints a startling portrait of the “new normal” in the Obama economy. 

According to the Department of Agriculture’s most recently released data, the number of individuals enrolled in the food stamp program (known officially as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) has remained above 45 million every single month for three years straight. 

In May 2011, 45,410,683 individuals received food stamps. As of May 2014 (the most recent date for which data are available), 46,225,054 people were on food stamps. At no point between the two dates did the number of food stamp enrollments ever fall below the 45 million mark. 

Food stamp enrollments have soared due to President Barack Obama’s categorical eligibility provisions, aggressive enrollment marketing, a bleak economy, and intense lobbying by large corporations who bag millions of taxpayer dollars as food stamp enrollments climb. Indeed, a report by the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) found that JP Morgan bagged well over half a billion dollars ($560,492,596) since 2004 processing the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards of 18 of the 24 states it holds contracts with.  

Still, despite historic levels of Americans now dependent on welfare, and with the middle class poorer now than it was in 1984, Obama continues to claim that his economic policies have made things better. 

“Since I have come into office, there’s almost no economic metric by which you couldn’t say that the U.S. economy is better,” Obama said in an interview this month with the Economist

According to Gallup, just 39% of Americans believe the U.S. economy is “getting better” versus 56% who say it is “getting worse.”

THE IMPENDING STORM OF UNEMPLOYMENT

4 May

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Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

7:34PM BST 02 May 2014

The US economy has delivered two minor shocks in a week, prompting concerns that bond tapering by the Federal Reserve may be doing more damage than expected.

Non-Farm Payrolls data released on Friday shows that the workforce shed 806,000 jobs in April, a stunning drop that cannot plausibly be blamed on the weather. Wage growth and hours worked were both flat and the manufacturing hours per week fell.

This follows news earlier in the week that the economy to a halt in the first quarter. Growth plummeted to 0.1pc and is now well below the Fed’s “stall speed” indicator. Analysts blamed this on the freezing polar vortex over the winter.

Yet the jobs data confirm a disturbingly weak picture. The headline unemployment rate fell to 6.3pc but that was only because the labour “participation rate” plummeted back to a modern-era low of 62.8pc, last seen in 1978 when there were far fewer women in the workforce. The rate for males is the lowest ever recorded at 69.1pc.

The jobs market is highly volatile – and is often revised later – but the data are a warning that the US recovery may be losing momentum. Lakshman Achuthan, from the Economic Cycle Research Institute, said the trend was already weakening long before the cold weather. “We see a failure to launch. We’re decelerating, not accelerating, and that is a big concern,” he said.

The Fed has gradually been turning down the spigot of dollar liquidity, reducing its bond purchases by $10bn a month at each meeting, even though the bank’s measure of core PCE inflation has dropped to 1.1pc. The net stimulus has dropped from $85bn a month to $45bn.

This is a form of monetary tightening. Interest rates have not risen – though they are rising in real terms – but the quantity of money mechanism may nevertheless be having a powerful effect. The broadest measure of the money supply – Divisia M4 – has dropped from a growth rate above 6pc a year ago to just 2.6pc in March.

The Fed is unlikely to blink yet. Even the once dovish San Francisco Fed has warned that quantitative easing no longer serves a useful purpose and may be doing more harm that good at this stage, fuelling asset bubbles without much benefit for the real economy. Analysts say it would take several months of bad data to force the Fed to halt tapering and change course again.

US policy-makers no longer pay much attention to the monetary data. Robert Hetzel, from the Richmond Fed, said this led to a grave error in mid-2008 when the Fed’s voting board began to talk up rate rises even though the money supply was already buckling. He argues that this played a key part in the Lehman crash several months later.

Erica Groschen, from the Bureau of Labour Statistics, said the sudden drop in jobs last month was caused by fewer people joining the workforce, rather than people leaving. That is hardly reassuring, and conflicts with theories that the participation rate is falling because people are choosing to retire early.

The weakness may be nothing worse than a pause for breath – or a mid-cycle correction – as the US gears up for a second leg of the post-Lehman expansion. The risk is that this instead proves to be the end of growth cycle that is already long in the teeth by historic standards.

The possibility of a fresh downturn with the interest rates already at zero, the Fed’s balance sheet already at $4 trillion, and gross public debt above 100pc of GDP for the first time since the end of the Second World War is what keeps US economists awake night. There is little margin for policy error.

Mark Caserta: Obama policies force dependence upon government

1 May

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May. 01, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Life under the Obama administration has gotten very expensive for Americans — on both sides of the ledger. The lack of good paying jobs combined with higher prices is literally changing the way America does business.

First, a look at the “income” side of the ledger.

At just under 63 percent, our nation’s labor participation rate is the lowest it’s been since 1978, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is projected to continue to fall over the next decade. As the nation’s workforce declines, the government safety net becomes comparatively filled with folks dependent upon government.

In fact, a record-setting 47 million people now depend on food stamps for sustenance, 13 million more than when Obama took office.

That metric alone should frighten all Americans.

Sadly, nearly 70 percent of the government’s discretionary and non-discretionary spending goes to programs which frequently trap individuals and families in long-term government dependence, according to the “2013 Index of Dependence on Government” publication by The Heritage Foundation.

Understand many of these people are hard-working Americans who’ve simply become casualties of Obama’s failing policies, which not only fail to provide a path out of poverty, but actually penalize success!

For those Americans fortunate enough to be working, the average workweek continues to decline with private, nonfarm payrolls now at 34.5 hours. I predict this weekly average will continue to fall as the Obamacare employer mandate kicks in requiring all businesses with over 50 full-time employees (employees who average 30 hours or more) to provide health coverage or pay a fine.

Frankly, this administration either doesn’t understand or isn’t willing to acknowledge the impending storm. Many employers will be financially forced to cap hiring below 50 employees, keep the employee’s average hours below 30, or pay the fine — whichever is least expensive. And with many of these jobs being low-paying retail positions, people will be forced into working multiple jobs simply to survive.

Now let’s look at the “expense” side of the ledger.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the U.S. was $1.83 the day before Obama took office. During his presidency it has risen over 96 percent to an average price last week of $3.68. And gasoline prices are a serious concern for individuals considering returning to the workforce versus staying home.

Retail food prices under the Obama administration are also skyrocketing due to commodity and fuel prices, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. From 2010 to 2011 alone, beef prices are up 10 percent, eggs and pork over 8 percent while fish and seafood are up over 6 percent, just to name a few staples.

Even a liberal should be able to understand that fewer good paying jobs combined with higher prices will result in increased dependence upon government, which in turn, will use the tax revenue from those employed to subsidize government programs supporting the unemployed — sort of taking from those who “have” for those who “have not.”

Hmm … that sounds like redistribution of wealth.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

20 PERCENT OF FAMILIES HAVE NO ONE WORKING

29 Apr

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CNSNews.com) – In 20 percent of American families in 2013, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), not one member of the family worked.

A family, as defined by the BLS, is a group of two or more people who live together and who are related by birth, adoption or marriage. In 2013, there were 80,445,000 families in the United States and in 16,127,000—or 20 percent–no one had a job.

The BLS designates a person as “employed” if “during the survey reference week” they “(a) did any work at all as paid employees; (b) worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm; (c) or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family.”

Members of the 16,127,000 families in which no one held jobs could have been either unemployed or not in the labor force. BLS designates a person as unemployed if they did not have a job but were actively seeking one. BLS designates someone as not in the labor force if they did not have a job and were not actively seeking one. (An elderly couple, in which both the husband and wife are retired, would count as a family in which no one held a job.)

In 20% of American Families, No One Works-1

Of the 80,445,000 families in the United States in 2013, there were 7,685,000—or about 9.6 percent—in which at least one family member unemployed.

The BLS has been tracking data on employment in families since 1995. That year, the percent of families in which no one had a job was 18.8 percent. The percentage hit an all-time high of 20.2 percent in 2011. It held steady at 20 percent in in 2012 and 2013.

The data on employment in families is based on Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey of the civilian noninstitutional population, which includes people 16 and older, who are not on active duty in the military or in an institution such as a prison, nursing home or mental hospital.

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