Archive for the ‘Bidenomics’ Category

Redefining “invasion”…

January 20, 2022

… and other head-scratchers from Biden’s presser.
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Glutton for punishment,  I watched all 2-hours of Biden’s press conference …

Here are a few more of my takeaways…

> Biden redefined “invasion”, coining a new phrase “minor (territorial) incursions” … which many observers interpreted as green-lighting Putin to breach the Ukraine border.

Shades of the domestic version: “mostly peaceful protests” that cause billions of dollars of damage without prosecution.

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> Biden praised U.S. technology and science (with no shout-out for Trump’s Op Warp Speed) for fast development of covid vaccines … but added that he (Biden) did the hard part: “getting shots into arms”.

Further, he said that his highest Covid priority for a return to normalcy is to vaccinate the rest of the world 

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> He condemned GOP senators for voting as a bloc … because they’re afraid of retribution by Trump.

On the split screen, Dems were threatening to primary Manchin & Sinema for breaking with the Dem bloc on the filibuster and BBB.

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> He warned that the 2022 mid-terms might be illegitimate if his voting rights bill isn’t passed.

Moments earlier, he touted the record-setting voter turnout in 2020  … non-sequitur?

Isn’t it wrong to question the legitimacy of elections?

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> He asserted that retail shelves are 89% full … only down 1% from a year ago

Generalizing from our past week of shopping: no bread, milk or produce on the shelves, empty sections of  OTC cold and flu medicines and, of course, no covid test kits.

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> He conceded that he might have been a month late igniting the push for in-home covid tests … who would have known?

Vanity Fair reported that in January 2021, the incoming Biden Administration was “handed” a national rapid-testing strategy … positioning  rapid testing as the most powerful tool to reduce transmission and case counts.

Then, on October 22, a group of COVID-19 testing experts presented the Biden administration with a detailed strategy for overhauling America’s approach to testing … by putting rapid at-home COVID-19 testing into the hands of average citizens, allowing them to screen themselves in real time and thereby help reduce transmission.

Hmm…

Who would have known?

Biden: “Best 1st year ever … my team is competent … full steam ahead”

January 20, 2022

Begala: “Not bad leaders, bad followers”
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Anybody who was hoping for retrospective humility, a course correction, an olive branch or a good old fashioned house cleaning was probably disappointed by Biden’s press conference yesterday.

Instead, he went full Begala, adopting the view that: “Democrats’ Problem ‘Is Not That They Have Bad Leaders. They Have Bad Followers’.

Joe’s view:

  1. He was dealt a bad hand
  2. Not lurching left
  3. No mistakes, no apologies
  4. I didn’t say what I said
  5. Exceeded expectations, great progress
  6. Best presidential first year ever
  7. Entire team doing a good job
  8. Has an agenda, GOP doesn’t
  9. Heading in the right direction
  10. Blame Covid, “Big meat” and Trump
  11. People just need to be informed
  12. The polls are wrong

Oh, my…

For the record:

In the latest RCP poll-of-polls. only 27.6% of Americans think that he country is moving in the right direction…

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And, in this week’s Morning Consult poll, half of self-identified independents gave Biden either a “D” or an “F” grade for his first year performance.

So much for data-driven…

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P.S. Best news for GOP…

Biden said: “I’ll be hitting the campaign trail to support Democratic candidates in the mid-term elections.”

Biden’s Christmas rally fizzles…

January 5, 2022

In the run-up to Christmas, as retailers deftly managed through supply chain logjams and Santa fully loaded his sleigh with enough presents to keep kids smiling, Biden’s job approval numbers improved a bit … peaking at 44% approval, 50% disapproval.

Then came omicron and the test kit shortage … and the worm turned again.

According to the RCP poll-of-polls, Biden is now almost 12 percentage points under water …  42.3% approve of his job performance, 53.9% disapprove.

For the record, the 53.9% disapproval is the highest that Biden has earned up to this point in his administration.

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Drilling down, according to a recent CNBC/Change Research poll, Biden is deeply underwater on all queried issue areas.

He scores best (err, make that least bad) on Infrastructure (17 points underwater) and COVID (minus 19 and falling fast).

He scores worst on Price of everyday goods (48 points underwater), Immigration (minus 46) and Family economics (minus 40).

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Taking another cut at the data, Change Research (CNBC’s polling partner), scores a “Kitchen Table Report Card” by asking people:

Imagine you could grade the Biden Administration’s handling of issues impacting the economy.

How would you grade the Biden Administration’s handling of each of these issues?

> Republicans given Biden straight Fs

> Dems give him a mix of Bs and Cs … averaging out to B- / C+

> Independents give him straight Ds

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Just for the record…

On the CNBC poll, Biden scores 38% favorable, 56% unfavorable on personal favorability.

On that same measure, in that same poll, Trump scored 38% favorable, 55% unfavorable.

Hmm.

Is $3 trillion statistically different from zero?

December 13, 2021

Dems say the social spending bill is free, but the CBO now disagrees.
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Biden’s selling proposition for his social spending program: It won’t cost a dime.

Manchin says that he’ll vote against it if it costs more than $1.75 trillion.

The bill that Congress passed is loaded with accounting gimmicks … mostly pretending that expensive programs will be terminated after one or two years … rather than becoming permanent spending fixtures.

Well, end of last week, the CBO released an estimate that de-gimmicks the BBB bill to estimate the real cost of the program.

Budgetary Effects of Making Specified Policies in the Build Back Better Act Permanent (cbo.gov)

And the answer is: $3 trillion … which certainly doesn’t qualify as rounding error … or statistical insignificance.

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According to the CBO analysis, three line items alone account for over $2.5 trillion in spending:

Pretending that the child tax credit and child care programs terminate in 2022 and 2027, respectively … and, raising the State & Local Tax Deduction limit from $10,000 to $80,000.

In total, the top 7 line items account for over $3.3 trillion in spending … up $2.5 trillion from the gimmicky bill, as passed by Congress.

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As the WSJ points out:

All of this gives Mr. Manchin, and other Democrats hiding behind his skepticism, ample ammunition to call the whole thing off.

If this bill passes, they’ll own all of the deficits, debt and inflation that result.

That said, I’m betting under on Manchin having the ‘nads to vote no on BBB.

My unfulfilling shopping experience…

December 2, 2021

A microcosm of life in Bidenland
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Motivated by a leaky dishwasher and Black Friday ads, my wife and I ventured out to do some appliance shopping.

First stop: Best Buy … where we were “greeted” by a police car strategically positioned in front of the entrance … apparently a company self-defense reaction after the looting (err, a Psaki coined “pandemic reaction”) at one of their stores in Minnesota.

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Slithering past the police car, I spotted the now commonplace “We’re Hiring” sign… an attempt to lure some government-supported couch- potatoes into the work force.

Entering the store, there were rent-a-cops prominently stationed to reassure people who might have thought that the police car outside wouldn’t stop a gang of flat screen and iPhone snatchers.

Note: I’m sure that the police presence was intended to give shoppers a (false) sense of security.  All it did for us was raise suspicions and our anxiety level: “What are they expecting to go down?”

We haven’t had to buy an appliance in years, so I was unpleasantly surprised by the price tags on the appliances. Transitory inflation?

But, not to worry … Black Friday discounts will fix that right?

There was only one dude (err, “blue shirt”) working in the appliance department … the ratio of shoppers to “blue shirts” was about 20 to 1.

While browsing, I overheard the lone blue shirt tell another shopper: “None in stock … at least a 4-month wait”.

That seemed to apply to everything … even the stuff that was in the Black Friday ad.

Note: Decades ago, I worked for a retailer.  The laws at the time were clear: If we advertised something that we didn’t have in stock, we got fined.  I guess that practice went out the door with cash bail.

Enough for shopping!

When we walked out, there were 2 police cars out front — facing each other.

Note: I’’m told that’s a standard “pincer formation” that allows the police to quickly close off an entrance.

We couldn’t wait to get home

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Bottom line: We had the full Bidenomics experience: (1) police presence (privately contracted by the owner) to protect against mostly peaceful looting and thuggery  (2) skeleton crews of store personnel (3) high prices, and (4) no inventory.

Am I better off than I was a year ago?

Nope.

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P.S. I’m not trying to dump on Best Buy.  They’re doing what they have to do given the Biden-induced challenges they face.  In fact, BB is probably doing a better job than other stores…

Joe offered thanks to Dem-heavy Hawaii & Vermont…

November 29, 2021

They’re the only 2 states where even a slim majority  approve of  his  job  performance
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Let’s start at the top …

A polling company called Civiqs surveyed over 130,000 people on the question: Do you approve or disapprove of the job that Joe Biden is doing as president?

Consistent with other recent polls, Civiqs found — at the aggregate level — that (a) a majority disapprove of the job Biden is doing, and (b) his job approval is underwater (or, “upside down”) by 16 percentage points with 37% approving and 53% disapproving.

That’s not new news.

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But, since Civiq’s sample size is so large, it’s able to slice & dice the data by it’s component parts.

That’s where the news is.

For example, at the state level:

> Hawaii & Vermont are the only 2 states where even a slim majority  approve of  Biden’s  job  performance

> His job approval number is only above water in 3 other Dem-heavy states: Maryland (48% to 41%), (Massachusetts (48% to 40%), California (46%42%)

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On the flip-side:

> More than 2 out of 3 residents in 10 states disapprove of Biden’s job approval.

In 4 states, more than 70% disapprove of his job performance: West Virginia (76%), Wyoming (73%), North Dakota (71%), and Oklahoma (71%)

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Glub-blub-glub

> Biden’s job approval is underwater by more than 25 percentage points 25 states

His job approval is most underwater in West Virginia (57%), Wyoming (73%), Oklahoma (49%) and North Dakota (48%).

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Find your state on the heat map below:

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More reasons that government is ambivalent about inflation…

November 18, 2021

Bottom line: All levels of government benefit from inflation.
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In a prior post, we spotlighted the world’s worst kept secret, revealed publicly by Biden’s press secretary

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English translation: “If high gas prices bother you, get on our climate control program and buy an electric car.”

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OK, that’s one reason that Biden’s people are ambivalent or maybe even enthusiastically supportive of skyrocketing gas prices.

And, there are other reasons that all levels of government — local, state and Federal — have some degree of ambivalence (or enthusiasm).

As the WSJ puts it:

One irony of inflation is that while it’s bad for working Americans, it’s great for the government.

Tax revenues soar as nominal profits and incomes rise.

“Overall state and local government receipts including federal aid are already 23% above pre-pandemic levels … thanks to Congress’s gusher of spending.”

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How does that happen?

Let me count the ways…

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At the Federal level:

(1) inflation devalues the national debt

(2) higher nominal wages push some tax filers into higher Federal tax brackets

(3) increasing asset prices boost capital gains and push some tax filers into higher Federal income  tax brackets

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At the State level:

(1) higher wages and capital gains push some tax filers into higher state income tax brackets

(2) higher retail prices increase state sales tax revenues … assuming that consumers continue to buy the same “real” volume of goods.

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At the Local level:

(1) higher wages and capital gains push some tax filers into higher local income tax brackets

(2) higher retail prices potentially increase local sales tax revenues

(3) higher real estate prices push real estate assessment values higher and boost local real estate tax collections.

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And, there’s a blue state slant to all of this:

The WSJ observes:

Progressive states with higher tax rates are especially flush (with tax revenues).

Democratic states in particular are building in new structural spending in the form of higher pay and pensions for public unions.

As Jen Psaki might say: “Suck it up, suckers.”

Psaki: High gas prices are a blessing in disguise…

November 17, 2021

“If high gas prices bother you, get an electric car.”
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In a prior post, we opined that Biden administration policies have obsoleted the Dem’s push for a $15 minimum wage.

How?

Well,  the current labor shortage — largely induced by Biden’s ““Stay home, get paid” programs — has pushed nominal wages up.

Of course, inflation-adjusted “real” wages are down … but, in Bidenomics, that’s just a technical detail.

And, we pointed out that Biden’s promise to use the Infrastructure Bill to create “thousands of $45 per hour union jobs with good benefits (i,.e. paying about $100,000 annually … plus overtime and fringe benefits) makes $15 per hour sound “so yesterday”.

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High gas prices: A blessing in disguise?

Today, let’s shift attention to sky-rocketing gas prices … and Biden’s “what me worry” attitude towards something that the vast majority of Americans consider an economic crisis.

The Dem’s narrative: Certainly not Joe’s fault, and there’s nothing he can do about it since OPEC won’t cooperate.

Of course that’s silly.

Biden declared war on gasoline (and natural gas) … terminating the XL pipeline project, halting drilling on government lands, and hassling frackers.

With the stroke of his ever-ready Executive Order pen, he can reverse the policies that he unilaterally executed.  Gas prices would tumble and the effect would quickly spread through the economy.

He can reinstate XL, reopen Federal lands to drilling and extend an olive branch the energy companies.

But, of course, that would incite one of his biggest constituencies: the climate control devotees.

To appease them, he has to pour more billions of dollars down green energy rabbit holes and boost the price of gas.

The old school thinking on the latter: Hike taxes on gas to depress demand.

The new school thinking: Ride the tide of “unavoidable” inflation at the pump.

Maybe then, people will finally get the idea:

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Biden’s mouthpieces have finally said what their thinking — out loud:

During a recent press conference, “White House press secretary Jen Psaki argued that higher gasoline prices, highlight the need for a rapid transition to clean energy.” Source

Or, as Energy Secretary Granholm said more clearly: “You know, if you drive an electric car, this would not be affecting you.” Source

In other words: “If high gas prices bother you, get an electric car.”

Just like the $15 minimum wage, when it comes to Biden’s climate agenda, gas taxes are “so yesterday”.

Just shut a few pipelines, stop drilling and don’t push OPEC too hard.

Same outcome as higher gas taxes, with plausible deniability.

 

Biden: “Forget the $15 dollar minimum wage.”

November 16, 2021

He’s got better ideas for boosting labor costs.
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I happened to be in the car last week when Biden was delivering his Infrastructure Bill remarks at the Port of Baltimore.

Most of the words that he read from the teleprompter were 50,000 feet high pablum… what I like to call political Muzak.

But, my ears perked up when he read aloud this line:

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Say, what?

Lets start with some basic arithmetic:

40 hours per week times 52 weeks per year equals 2,080 hours per year … 2,080 hours per year times $45 per hour equals $93,600 per year.

Not bad work if you can get into a Dem-loyal union and bag one of the jobs.

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Fringe Benefits

Oh, yeah … let’s not forget the part about good benefits.

In my old managerial days, we always figured that “fringe benefits” cost us about 25% on top of the base wages.

That puts the annual benefits-loaded cost of labor at $117,000 … not counting overtime (1-1/2 over 8 hours per day, double on weekends and holidays) … or the new freebies included in the “Biden agenda” (e.g. paid family leave time).

Hmm.

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The Infrastructure Bill

Best that I can tell, the Infrastructure Bill has a couple of objectives: (1) fix some bridges and fill some pot holes, and (2) boost wages (especially for union loyalists)

Not necessarily in that order.

I guess the old goal of a $15 minimum wage is so yesterday.

Why fight that battle when you can:

(1) Set a floor on wages by paying people to stay home watching TV instead of taking “demeaning” entry-level jobs.

(2) “Create” thousands of $100,000 jobs … by ordering infrastructure contractors to staff up with a diverse army of union workers.

The best part: nobody will even notice.

Methinks we’re getting played…

Bidenomics: Pay people to sit on the couch and…

July 21, 2021

Shocker: They sit on the couch!
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Team Biden denies it, but its lavish supplemental unemployment benefits are keeping many unemployeds on the sidelines.

Some analysts estimate that the stay-at-home benefits offered to many unemployed households is equivalent of $25/hour … which translates to about $50,000 annually for a full-time worker ($25 x 8 hours per day x 5 days per week x 50 weeks per year).

If that number strikes you as too high, cut it in half and the conclusions don’t change.

If that’s too high for your tastes, haircut it again and…

According to a poll reported by left-leaning Morning Consult, at least 13% of the folks still unemployed admit that they’re currently receiving enough money from unemployment benefits that they don’t need to work … and, 12% say that they’re not being offered enough money to return to work (compared to the unemployment benefits that they’re receiving).

Stats Note: There’s probably a substantial overlap in those 2 groups…. but the combining “net” number is likely higher than 13% … maybe much higher.

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The bottom line according to Morning Consult is that an estimated 1.84 million unemployeds will return to the labor force when the federal unemployment benefits expire over the summer.

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Think that’ll change Biden’s position?

I’m betting the under…


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