Monday, March 31, 2014

6 Million ObamaCare Signups: A Meaningless Number

The last time Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the number of ObamaCare signups, it was 5 million with 25% of that being younger, 18-to-34 year-olds; a percentage far short of the 38% needed to keep the current insurance rates from skyrocketing next year but, an improvement from the 24% in the month prior.  With this latest 6 million signup announcement, the "18-to-34" count was nowhere to be found.  That only means one thing: a deterioration of the "younger" signups. Otherwise, this  "most transparent" administration in history, would be screaming that number from the mountain tops. 

Then, too, the 6 million is far short of the 7 million that HHS Secretary Sibelius said was their signup goal. Now, Obama is claiming that, in fact, they have met the goal with this lower number.  Between the modified goal and all the delays, it is like trying to play football with the goal line and goal post  constantly moving away from you.

More importantly, that 6 million number is totally meaningless without knowing some of the facts behind it.  One of the most glaring is how many people have gone the final step by paying for what they've signed up for.  For example, in Maryland, only 46% of those "enrolled" have yet to actually do this.  Until they pay, they are not insured.

Then there's the issue as to whether or not ObamaCare is making a dent in the nearly 50 million uninsured in America; a key objective of upending our health care system.  A McKinsey & Company study reviewed the signups and found that only 11% previously had no insurance.  If this is true, and after 6 months of enrollment only 660,000 have signed up, it could take up to 40 years before all the previous uninsured are covered.

We also don't know if the enrollment of women exceeds that of men.   If too many women are signed up, the advantage of men cost sharing for so many of women's "free" healthcare benefits that are mandated by ObamaCare is lost.  Unlike men, women get one free doctor visit per year.  They also get free  contraception, mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, maternity services, pediatric care, and so many other services.  If there aren't enough men to cover the cost, the premiums would f course, need to be increased.

Another problem with this simplistic enrollment number is that we don't know how "sick" the enrollees are.  If "sick" people primarily dominate the enrollments, then the insurers are in trouble because they won't have collected enough to cover the heavy cash outlays for a sicker group of insured.  Again, this would necessarily force premiums to skyrocket going forward.

Then, too, why would anyone believe the 6 million number when the President and his people have lied so much about the healthcare law?

Health insurance is not a single number game but, a science of many thousands of numbers. Numbers that take into consideration people's ages, sex, economic and marital status, good and bad habits, and so much more. That's why insurers have rooms full of actuaries whose full time job it is to predetermine the healthcare costs for every single person who might buy insurance from them.  But, they must also predict the proper mix of those buying insurance from them.  If they don't get it right, that company would be toast. This is why it is ridiculous for either Obama or Sibelius to declare ObamaCare a success based on a simplistic enrollment number. 


'Obamacare' reaches sign-up goal of six million:

Kathleen Sebelius: Exchange enrollment goal is 7 million by end of March:

The ObamaCare Numbers Racket:

Exchanges See Little Progress on Uninsured:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Gallup Polling Suggests Democrats Are Again In Trouble In This Year's Midterm Election

In 2010, America saw a sea change in politics with Democrats losing big at both the federal and state levels.  At the federal level, the Republicans retook the House of Representatives and the Senate Democrats lost their two-thirds, legislative super majority.

In that year, more than anything else, ObamaCare was adversely on the minds of the voters.  But no group was more active in punishing the Democrats for the health care law than seniors.  A post election analysis showed that 61% of those aged 65 years or older turned out to vote.  The highest percentage of any age group. Of those 55 to 65, the turnout rate was still relatively high at 54%. Only 37% of those 25 to 44 voted that year.  Worse yet, only 21% of the nation's youth turned out.

One only has to look at this graph from Gallup to understand why 2010 was such a bad year for the Democrats:

As this chart shows, Democrats went from a positive 13% party affiliation advantage among seniors in 2006 to a negative 6% disadvantage in 2010.  That's really surprising because the drop took place during the supposed Great Recession.  A recession that the Democrats were constantly blaming on Bush and the Republicans.  Even the "younger" Americans trended away from the Democrats but still left their party with a 2% voting advantage in 2010.

While Gallup suggests that the Democrats have recovered from their 2010 lows, seniors are still a negative for the Democrats; and, if 2010 was a midterm blueprint, they and their high turnout are the one's who will probably decide who wins or loses in the Fall.

In another polling report, Gallup also indicates a loss of  Democrat party affiliation among all whites and all non-whites:

In this polling result, the Democrats bottomed out in 2011 with their party reflecting a 14 percentage point disadvantage among all whites.  On top of that, a normally solid base for the Democrats, saw a drop from a high of 58% to just 43% in 2011; meaning that, no longer, were Democrats able to hold a majority against non-whites.  In the case of whites, there has only been a recovery of 2 percentage points since 2010.  For non-whites, the story is even more grim with support for Democrats still less than a majority at 45%.

Now, none of the above charts reflect any attitudinal changes that may have taken place since the roll out of ObamaCare.  However, my guess is that there has been another 2010-like shift away from the Democrats.  If so, I truly believe the Democrats will lose big again with the loss of control of the Senate.


Why Older Citizens are More Likely to Vote:

U.S. Seniors Have Realigned With the Republican Party:

U.S. Whites More Solidly Republican in Recent Years:


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Justices Kagan and Sotomayor On Mandated Contraception: Stupidity On Display!

During the initial oral arguments, Justices Sotomayor and Kagan posed this to the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties attorney's as a solution to their client's religious objection of having to provide contraception coverage to all their employees:
"Because nobody is forcing Hobby Lobby or Conestoga to provide health insurance, they can simply pay the tax penalty instead."
What do these two high courts justices seem to think a "tax penalty" is for?   Do they think its a charitable donation?  No, the penalty is intended to "force" employers to provide insurance to their employees with an included contraception mandate. To say "nobody is forcing" these two companies to provide health insurance is plain stupidity.

Then, too, those words seem to imply that "freedom" -- as in "freedom of religion" and as guaranteed by our Constitution -- now comes with a penalty.  A penalty that would cost Hobby Lobby $26 million dollars a year by Justice Kagan's own calculation!

What these justices don't "want" to understand is that the contraception mandate was never defined in the initial health care law nor, is it to be found in the Constitution.  It was one of the 22,000 pages of regulations that were spawned by the original Affordable Care Act.  And, it was a discretionary decision made by Obama and his Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius.  Initially, as an interim ruling in 2011 (a year after the law was enacted), it was then finalized and made permanent in 2012.  So, the issue here is whether or not this President has the right, by dictate, to override the rights that are protected by our Constitution. Is it possible that these two female justices are siding with the President on the basis of their gender bias? 


Supreme Court Women Raise Questions on Contraception Coverage:

Supreme Court seeks compromise in contraception case:

A statement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (on contraception):

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The ObamaCare Indiviual Mandate Tax Penalty Explained

One of the most incorrectly stated details of ObamaCare is the tax penalty for not buying health insurance.  Many think that if you don't buy insurance, there is simply a $95 penalty.  That's true for some but not for all; and, only this year.  Then, there are those that who say the penalty is $95 or one percent of income; whichever is higher.  Now, that may be closer to the truth but, understand the ObamaCare penalty is an IRS tax collection program and no IRS system of taxation is ever that simple in its execution.

First of all, Health and Human Services (HHS) states that if you are an individual making less than $10,100 or a married couple making less than $20,200, you are not eligible for a penalty.  The only reason these amounts are even in the law is because these are the thresholds for not having to file a 2014 tax return.  Thus, if you don't have to file a tax return, the IRS has no mechanism to collect the penalty.

But here's where the insanity of ObamaCare really shows up.

If you are an individual making less than $11,490, you are eligible for Medicaid (free healthcare) in all 50 states.  That's because HHS says you are in poverty.  So, if your income is between $10,100 and $11,490, the penalty literally becomes a stupidity tax for you not signing up for Medicaid.  If you live in a state that agreed to the expansion of Medicaid under the new health care law, the stupidity tax is raised for those individuals making less than $15,282.  Now, here's some further insanity.  If you and your wife have a combined income above $15,510, HHS says that you are above the poverty threshold and you must buy insurance through the exchanges.  The IRS says, not so fast.  We don't collect until you make $20,200.  So, in essence there is a nearly $4,500 "hole" where no penalty can ever be applied.

Now to the true application of the penalty.  If you are an individual making less than $19,150 or a family with a combined income of  under $35,500 the tax penalty is fixed. For 2014, the fixed penalty will be $95 per adult and one-half of that or $47.50 for each child; with a family cap of 300% of the basic adult penalty or $285.  In 2015, the penalty is raised to $325 per adult with a cap of  $975.  By 2016, the respective numbers are $695 and $2085.  In both 2015 and 2016, the child penalty is one-half the adult tax.

Also, in 2014, if you make more than the fixed rate thresholds, the penalty is calculated at 1% of gross income after subtracting the IRS filing threshold of $10,100 for singles or $20,200 for marrieds.  The cap for this tax group is based on the national average of the cost of an ObamaCare bronze plan.  Also, for each income level, there are deductions that lower the penalty for those who are either married or married with children.  For example, an individual making $50,000 would pay a tax (penalty) of $402.  If married with no children, the penalty drops to $305.  Add a child and the penalty is only $267.  That's why if you want to know what your particular penalty is, use the calculator below.

In 2015, the 1% penalty will be increased to 2%.  By 2016, it will hit 2.5% and, then, increased each year thereafter by the rate of inflation.

Now, any decent Democrat-minded law wouldn't be complete without exemptions from the tax penalty and here they are:

  • You’re uninsured for less than 3 months of the year
  • The lowest-priced coverage available to you would cost more than 8% of your household income
  • You don’t have to file a tax return because your income is too low (Learn about the filing limit.)
  • You’re a member of a federally recognized tribe or eligible for services through an Indian Health Services provider
  • You’re a member of a recognized health care sharing ministry
  • You’re a member of a recognized religious sect with religious objections to insurance, including Social Security and Medicare
  • You’re incarcerated, and not awaiting the disposition of charges against you
  • You’re not lawfully present in the U.S.
But, on top of that, there are a bunch of so-called hardship exemptions available to you that may make all the tax penalties null and void.  Especially the newest one that says "Your individual insurance plan was cancelled and you believe other Marketplace plans are unaffordable."  Here's that list:
  1. You were homeless.
  2. You were evicted in the past 6 months or were facing eviction or foreclosure.
  3. You received a shut-off notice from a utility company.
  4. You recently experienced domestic violence.
  5. You recently experienced the death of a close family member.
  6. You experienced a fire, flood, or other natural or human-caused disaster that caused substantial damage to your property.
  7. You filed for bankruptcy in the last 6 months.
  8. You had medical expenses you couldn’t pay in the last 24 months.
  9. You experienced unexpected increases in necessary expenses due to caring for an ill, disabled, or aging family member.
  10. You expect to claim a child as a tax dependent who’s been denied coverage in Medicaid and CHIP, and another person is required by court order to give medical support to the child. In this case, you do not have to pay the penalty for the child.
  11. As a result of an eligibility appeals decision, you’re eligible for enrollment in a qualified health plan (QHP) through the Marketplace, lower costs on your monthly premiums, or cost-sharing reductions for a time period when you weren’t enrolled in a QHP through the Marketplace.
  12. You were determined ineligible for Medicaid because your state didn’t expand eligibility for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
  13. Your individual insurance plan was cancelled and you believe other Marketplace plans are unaffordable.
  14. You experienced another hardship in obtaining health insurance.
The last one sounds like the ultimate hardship was having to sign up for ObamaCare on their failing websites. Anyway, that's it.  Not nearly as simple as the $95 penalty that keeps getting bandied about. 


ObamaCare Penalty Calculator (note: Accurate but does not apply the IRS limits):

Federal Poverty Levels:

What if someone doesn't have health care coverage in 2014?:

How do I qualify for an exemption from the fee for not having health coverage?:

On Raising The Minimum Wage, More Than 500 Economists Say No

In this blog I have published several entries explaining why raising the minimum wage would hurt businesses, the economy, youth employment, and not reduce poverty but, instead, deepen it.

Now, more than 500 economists from universities and colleges from all over the country -- of which three are Nobel Laureates -- have written an open "Statement to Federal Policy Makers" saying basically the same thing.  This excerpt essentially summarizes their concern:
"As economists, we understand the fragile nature of this recovery and the dire financial realities of the nearly 50 million Americans living in poverty. To alleviate these burdens for families and improve our local, regional, and national economies, we need a mix of solutions that encourage employment, business creation, and boost earnings rather than across-the-board mandates that raise the cost of labor."
 I would hope that "all" our representatives in Washington take heed of what these economists are saying.  To increase the minimum wage at the expense of so many millions and our economy -- just to garner votes -- is not just insane but a dereliction of duty. These warnings are quite clear.

The link to read the letter and see its signatories:

Story: More than 500 Economists Denounce Minimum Wage Hike in Letter to Washington:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Robert Reich: A 'Misinformation' Propagandist For ObamaCare

During the rise of the Third Reich, one person, Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, operated on a very simple principal: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it."

To me, there are many on the left that have been taken Goebbels words to heart with the constant spinning of all things about Obama and ObamaCare. But none are as prolific in the "spin" agenda than the former Clintonista, Robert Reich. Last Sunday was no exception with his latest New York Times piece titled: "It's Working Despite Misinformation".

The problem with this latest laughable "piece-of-whatever", is that he claims that "misinformation" is being used to slander the law and, thus, retard its success.  So, to counter that, he uses actual and very intentional "misinformation" to try and prove that ObamaCare is "working".  

Right off the bat he writes this:

 "After decades of rising percentages of Americans lacking health insurance, the uninsured rate has dropped to its lowest levels since 2008."
First of all, we're supposed to take his word for it that there has been decades of "rising percentages" because he provides no support for that supposed fact.  Well, here's the truth.  For almost two decades, the "percentage" of uninsured has hovered slightly above or below 15%:

But, you see he didn't want us to know that.  Instead he presents a link to this chart in support of his statement that the percentage of uninsured has dropped to the "lowest since 2008" and, which, in no way supports his previous statement about rising percentages:

To me, this chart just raises more questions than any support of his commentary; and, I think that's why he didn't embed it in his opinion piece. Instead, he made it a hypertext link with the assumption that his readers probably won't even look at it.  This way he gets away with his "lowest level since 2008" because, in fact, 15.9% is lower than the first quarter of 2009's 16.1%.  But, not by a whole hell of a lot and still almost a full percentage point higher the average of about 15% from 1990 to 2008.  Also, he fails to make note of the fact that we are still a full percentage point higher than the decades low of 14.4% that existed just before Obama took office.

Not once does he explain why the dramatic drop in uninsured in 2014 followed a record rise in 2013 from 16.3% to a history making 18%. The only explanation that I can think of is that people, because of ObamaCare, were losing their policies in the run up to its implementation on October 1, 2013.  This chart just tells me that, at the beginning of 2013, 16.3% or 15.7 million Americans were without insurance.  Today, a year later, 15.9% or 50.4 still have no insurance. That's only a net improvement of 300,000 uninsured.  Or, in other words, of the 5 million who have already signed up for ObamaCare, only 6% previously had no insurance and 4.7 million previously had insurance. Not hardly proof that "It's working".  All this chart is telling us is that ObamaCare is real good at forcing people to lose their private insurance and not so good at solving the uninsured problem in this country.

Then, too, Reich repeats an Obama claim that we are already seeing slower growth in health care costs thanks to ObamaCare.  This is a complete lie.  First of all, the slowing of costs started long before any part of ObamaCare went into effect in January of this year. Economists who have studied this have concluded that the slowing in health care expenditures are a direct result of the slow recovery from the recession and higher than normal numbers of uninsured and unemployed. In fact, Obama's own people at the Centers For Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS), just released another study in January that supports that very fact.

While I could go on and on in tearing up the rest of Reich's propaganda, I think I've made my point on his critical points of misinformation.  People like Reich spin by cherry picking and telling half-truths and, in many cases, complete lies in support of failed Democratic party policies.  They survive on the basis that they carry hefty professional and educational credentials and, as a result, most people won't fact check their claims.  In Reich's case, he relies heavily on his tenures at both Berkley and Harvard.  Therefore, how could anyone doubt the words of someone who had taught at these two prestigious institutions of higher learning?  Well, I do and so do many millions of Americans who have been hurt by ObamaCare!

One final comment. Reich liked his propaganda piece so much that he repeated it, word for word, in the Huffington Post Blog section with a different title: The Real Truth About Obamacare.  Remember part of what Goebbels said: "... and keep repeating it" and "people will eventually come to believe it."


Joseph Geobbels: 

Robert Reich: It’s Working Despite Misinformation: 

CMS: Recession Drove Lower Healthcare Spending:

The Real Truth About Obamacare:


Monday, March 24, 2014

Rush Limbaugh Is Wrong On Having To Pay The ObamaCare Tax In 2014

Recently, Matt Drudge, of the Drudge Report, tweeted that he just paid the tax for not having health insurance in 2014 and he called it his "freedom tax".  Immediately, he was labelled as going from being a complete liar to being just plain stupid for paying a tax that Obama put off until taxes are paid in 2015. Today, Limbaugh went on a tirade in defending Drudge saying that he only did what the law "requires" him to do.  

Now, to be exact, Drudge is one of those people or businesses that are required to file their taxes every quarter along with a supporting form: the 1040ES. With regard to the health care penalty, the IRS instructions are simply advisory:
"Health care coverage. When you file your 2014 tax return in 2015, you will need to either (1) indicate on your return that you and your family had health care coverage throughout 2014, (2) claim an exemption from the health care coverage requirement for some or all of 2014, or (3) make a payment if you do not have coverage or an exemption(s) for all 12 months of 2014."
Contrary to Limbaugh's rant, it was optional for Drudge to pay the tax early.  The IRS simply says that "When you 2015" the payment is due for not having health insurance for 12 full months in 2014.  It implies no mandatory payment on a quarterly basis or even any interest penalty for failing to do so. It then goes on to say that you "can" pay the tax penalty early by indicating so on line 12, Other Taxes, of the 1040ES form.  Even so, only a quarter of the estimated total penalty would be due at this time.

Often I agree with Rush, but this time he's wrong and, in this case it hurts his credibility.


‘Liberty Tax’: White House, Media Attack After Drudge Pays Obamacare Opt-Out Penalty:

2014 1040ES Filing Instructions:

For ObamaCare: The 2014 Elections Might Have Serious Consequences

I think a lot of Republicans (and Democrats, too) believe that it would be impossible to repeal and replace ObamaCare unless they controlled both houses of Congress and could retake the presidency in 2017.  However, I believe there is another scenario that could seal ObamaCare's fate in 2015.

If (and that is a big "if") the Democrats receive a similar shellacking in 2014 as was seen in 2010, and they lose control of the Senate and see even more losses of seats in the House, a number of Senate Democrats may possibly be willing to side with Republicans in repealing ObamaCare.  Enough, even,  to override an Obama veto.  I can say this with confidence because no Democrat is going to be willing to lose another sweeping election because of their continued support of ObamaCare.

The only way Republicans can pull this off is to offer a bill that, in the very first paragraph, repeals or supersedes ObamaCare and, then, goes on to outline a new reform of heath care. One that would have clear public acceptance over the current law and one that, at the very least, is somewhat acceptable to the Democrats.

The biggest hangup in doing this will be the Republican's insistence on tort reform.  Because trial lawyers are such big donors to the Democrats, it will be very difficult for any of them to vote for a bill that would harm that critical donor base.  In fact, right now, ObamaCare, with all of its legislative facets, is a potential gold mine for trial lawyers if health care providers and insurance companies fail to comply with any parts of the law; leading to both Federal and civil lawsuits being filed.  While tort reform would definitely benefit the country as a whole by lowering health care costs, the Republicans would be wise to hold off doing anything about it until they do have the presidency and both houses of congress.

Friday, March 21, 2014

For Some Workers, A Hike In The Mininum Wage Can Cost Them Thousands!

If you are a single parent with at least one child, being paid minimum wage and making less than $15,730, the government says you're in poverty.  As a result, you are eligible for all kinds of public  programs like housing assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, child care assistance, a free home phone and cellphone, Earned Income Tax Credits, and no income tax.  When the state of Pennsylvania itemized all those benefits it came to just under $55,000 in gross combined income for a single parent making up to $15,730.  $57,327 for a welfare mom/dad making $29,000:
Click to enlarge chart

Other states could be higher or lower depending on the cost of living for that given state; but, Pennsylvania approximates the average of all benefits for the contiguous 48 states.

Now, if Obama and the Democrats are successful in increasing the minimum wage by 41% to $10.10 an hour, anyone who is earning a minimum wage and in poverty will see thousands of dollars in benefits just go away.  On top of that, those losing their benefits will have to start paying taxes instead of receiving cash back from their previous Earned Income Tax Credit refunds.

Another reason why raising the minimum wage will make some Americans a lot poorer.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Reason For Obama To Hate Fox News

Last Fall, an internet-based polling firm, YouGov, asked people to tell them what source they trusted most to get any information about ObamaCare.  The results are reflected in this graph:

Almost 2-to-1, people trusted Fox News over President Obama as a source of news about the health care law.  Worse yet, the Democrats of Congress and the Obama Administration Officials only got 2% of the vote each as trusted informants.  Also, all the other news agencies did horribly. This just further proves that Democrats are suffering from a severe lack of trust over ObamaCare; re-enforcing the belief that they will suffer another tsunami of losses in this coming Fall election.

It's not too surprising that this polling data got zero coverage in the mainstream media.  What is surprising is that Fox News, itself, seemed not to be aware of this data.  A search of their site produced no results.

Now, if you think YouGov is some obscure or right-wing, 2-bit operation, they were the only polling service that accurately predicted that Obama would win by exactly 2% of the vote in 2012.


Fox News: The Most Trusted Name in Health Care News?:

Wikipedia: YouGov:

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Did Clinton Just Give Obama A Wake-up Call In Dealing With Putin?

One of the observations -- and certainly a criticism -- regarding President Obama's handling of difficult situations is that he doesn't seem to see things the way they really are.  Many times he takes actions that aren't in proportion to the seriousness of the event.  Certainly, his "baby steps" handling of Putin's takeover of Crimea has given his critics a perfect example of this weakness.

Recently, just a day before Crimea successfully voted to secede from the Ukraine, Bill Clinton was asked to comment.  Interestingly, he said this about Putin:
“The one thing I will say about him is he was always pretty transparent. He never pretended to be what he wasn’t..."
Well, one thing I can say about Clinton is that he is a very skilled wordsmith; never wasting words and always making sure that, what he says sends a clear political message.  Rarely does he ever gaffe when talking unscripted.  Therefore, I think that the quote, above, is something that he has thought about and clearly wanted to say.  For this reason, I believe the former President was trying to send a wake-up call to Obama by telling him that he needs to take Putin's words and actions seriously.  Otherwise, he would never have wasted a single word in mentioning something that, to too many people, was clearly obvious.

Source: Clinton On Putin:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Obama, The Minimum Wage, The GAP Stores, and Circuit City

Recently, Obama went to a GAP store to make another pitch for raising the minimum wage to $10.10. The reason he chose the GAP as his prop is because they recently announced that they are voluntarily raising their entry level wage to $9 this year and $10 in 2015. Citing that there were no politics behind the wage increase, it must be that the GAP feels that this increase will ultimately benefit their company by attracting a better class of worker and will result in less employee turnover.  A fact that has been borne out by hundreds of companies that have paid their employees more than the minimum wage.

What isn't clear is whether or not the GAP will raise their entry level wages again by another 41%, if the Federally mandated $10.10 minimum wage becomes effective.  You know, to keep a better class of worker and all that by paying them more. After all, they said the current 41% increase in wages had nothing to do with politics.  This from a company that is headquartered in the most politically liberal town in America, San Francisco, and, more than likely, are supportive of Barack and his liberal agenda. But, what is even more remarkable is how "employee caring" the company has suddenly become.  I say this because, in the past, they have been criticized and even sued over the sweat shop  conditions they've maintained in manufacturing locations like Bangladesh, Saipan, and India.

While it's true that paying more than the minimum wage has advantages in employee loyalty, that same loyalty can kill a business. That's exactly what happened to Circuit City when, in late 2008, it went bankrupt; with thousands losing their jobs.  Just like the GAP, they too thought it was smart to pay much higher than the minimum wage.  But, when the competition, like Wal-Mart and Best Buy, were able to price products lower because of lower wages, they were stuck with a very loyal but extremely expensive workforce.  In 2007, a year before going belly up, they blamed their financial problems on "wage management" issues.  At they same time, they announced a lower entry level wage and that they would lay off 3400 higher paid employees who would ultimately be replaced with lower paid workers.  But, their fate was already sealed long ago.

I just hope the GAP knows this, because our President will never understand why many companies will die if the minimum wage is raised another 41%.


GAP to Raise Minimum Hourly Pay:

President Obama makes shopping stop at New York Gap as part of minimum wage campaign:

GAP Labor Practices:

Circuit City:

Gap admits to child labour violations in outsource factories:

Monday, March 17, 2014

What Raising The Minimum Wage Will Cost You

We are a country of about 317 million people. Of that, approximately 70 million are under the age of 18 and are presumed to be living with their parents and off their parent's incomes.  So, essentially, there are roughly 250 million people who should be receiving some form of income. That's how many would be affected by higher prices that would be passed on by raising the minimum wage by $2.85 an hour to the proposed $10.10/hour.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), raising the minimum wage for the 1.6 million workers who earn that wage would actually result in a total of 16.5 million workers seeing their incomes increase. The reason for this is that when you increase the bottom salary level by an extraordinary 41% (as this increase would do), all the salaries above that level will have to be adjusted upwards in order to maintain equity in any typical company's pay scale ladder.  The head of Obama's National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, predicts an even higher number with as many as 28 million seeing their incomes increased.

Now, if we use the 34.2 hours that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the average American works each week, and we assume the CBO's 16.5 million number that a $2.85 per hour increase results in, an annualized cost of  almost $85 billion will be passed on to us in higher prices.  Divide that by the 250 million people who pay the bills and that's a per person cost of $350 year; or, $700 per family.  If you use the Sperling's 28 million, you're talking about almost $600 a year per individual or $1200 per family.  Obviously, Obama and the Democrats don't seem to think you'll miss all that cash. 

Like it or not, after the minimum wage is increased, 250 million of us will be $350 to $600 poorer each year; and, on an ongoing basis.  For many, that extra cost may have just wiped out any raise they may have received. Especially hurt are the unemployed; the poor; people on fixed incomes; and, those 2 million workers who aren't even paid a minimum wage.

What does that say about Obama's pet topic de jour: Income Inequality?   The simple fact is that when prices are pushed up by wage inflation, the majority of Americans will only get poorer.  It has just the opposite effect of  minimizing poverty.  Job creation and low unemployment are the real means by which poverty is reduced.  When there are too few workers competing for far too many jobs, employers are necessarily forced to pay higher wages in order to fill openings and keep good people. That's how it has worked for years.

We currently have the highest minimum wage in decades and, at the same time, median incomes are down almost 8% with still high unemployment and we have a record number of Americans -- 46.5 million -- who are in poverty.  And, let's not forget, the recession ended nearly 5 years ago. I personally believe that the reason this has been one of the worst recoveries in our history is because or economy is still trying to recover from increases in the minimum wage that took place during the heart of this last recession.  I also believe that our slow growing economy will be even worsened further by another massive increase in the minimum wage.  It is just folly to believe that forced wage increases won't have serious economic consequences.


Raising the minimum wage would help 16.5 million workers but could cost 1/2 million jobs:

Increasing the nation's minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would help between 24 million and 28 million people:

Characteristics of a Minimum Wage Worker:

Average Weekly Work Hours:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Record American Wealth?

Recently, the Federal Reserve reported that Household Worth hit a record $80.7 trillion dollars.  The Drudge Report headline said it all: "Boom: Household Net Worth Hits Record High..."

Now, if you read that headline and you are an average Joe or Jane in America, you are probably scratching your head because you just know, since this recession, that you are still hurting.  The report claims that the record wealth was due to improved home prices. Really? Home prices are nowhere near the record median price of 2005:
Then, too, there are more Americans in poverty than ever:
Add to that the fact that the median household income has fallen for 5 years in a row and you have to wonder what the Federal Reserve was smoking when they came up with that "record" wealth story. 

Well, the primary problem with the Fed's calculation is that it heavily weights stock market gains.  But, most of those gains primarily benefit the rich and rich stock market funds.  Even Obama had to admit that 95% of the income gains under his Administration went to the top 1%.

The bottom line is that the Fed's numbers are completely deceptive.  Americans are not better off now than they were before the housing bust and the recession. All that their Quantitative Easing initiatives (QE1, QE2, and QE3) did is benefit the wealthy individuals, hedge funds, and major corporations.  Meanwhile, all that spending never reached the little guys of our society. 


Household Worth in U.S. Climbs by $2.95 Trillion to Record:

Median Income Falls For 5th Year, Inequality At Record High:

Obama admits 95% of income gains gone to top 1%:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where's the Real Climate Science?

The world over, people who question global warming and climate change are called deniers of science.  So, I guess if I question why such a scarce gas, carbon dioxide, which only makes up less than four-one hundredths of a percent of our atmosphere is so impacting that any increases in it would produce unbridled global warming, then you can call me a denier.  Or, you can call me a denier if I find it illogical that, since 1998, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise and, yet, world temperatures have remained flat when averaged. Then, too, I must be a denier when I find it hard to trust a United Nations panel on climate change when in fact 95% of their 72 supercomputer world temperature predictions since 1988 have been wrong; and, are continuing to be wrong because they all fail to recognize the current hiatus in global warming and have no scientific reason as to why it is happening.

My problem is that billions of dollars are being paid to scientists to prove that carbon dioxide is driving global warming and nothing is being paid to dispute it.  This lopsided  kind of scientific research and analysis is probably why temperature predictions have been so wrong.  Sort of scientific wishful thinking. So, it was interesting to me to find a study that may have, inadvertently, disproved the theory that man-made carbon dioxide was the evil it is being purported to be.  

Recently, a climate team at Princeton University published the results of their research whereby they, unrealistically, subjected their supercomputer temperature modeling to an input of zero CO2 emissions.  And, by zero, they mean no humans, animals, forest fires, or volcanoes producing any carbon dioxide at all. What they found was that, in just 20 years, 40% of the existing atmospheric CO2 was naturally reduced by the earth's absorption processes.  However, it took 1000 years before another 40% of the original CO2 was further diminished.  What was not expected was the fact that temperatures, after falling in the first century, resumed rising; even as carbon dioxide levels were continuing to fall.  But, what was more disconcerting is the fact that the rise in temperatures continued past 400 years.

Being faithful zealots to global warming theory, the scientists at Princeton then concluded that the earth is even more sensitive to CO2 than was previously thought.  Therefore, current CO2 reduction targets need to be increased.

Really? I think there are other conclusions that could have been reached. Either these climate gurus at Princeton have a perfectly screwed up computer model or their research merely proves that CO2 has nothing to do with global warming.  Even if their modeling is correct, at the very least, it shows that it is completely futile in trying to control CO2.  Just think about it. If you can't stop global warming with a 100% reduction in emissions, then why are we, as a global community, tinkering around, at a cost of billions of dollars, trying to simply slow the rate at which carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere?

The bottom line is that, even when climate science produces unexpected or illogical results, the alarmists still claim its settled science. Real science produces predictable results. Right now, in real life, global warming has taken a hiatus despite continually rising carbon levels.  Yet, the alarmists believe we should act even faster and harder to save the planet.  In this Princeton study, temperatures rise despite a complete suspension of CO2.  Yet, their conclusion is that we aren't doing enough.  Apparently zero is not enough.


Princeton University News: Even if emissions stop, carbon dioxide could warm Earth for centuries:

On Climate Change, Why Would You Trust People Who Have Been 95% Wrong?:


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ukraine/Crimea: Obama Resorts to His 'Pen' Again

It's been more than a week since Putin moved against Crimea.  Yet, there still is no international coalition willing to take Russia to task.  Not the U.N.  Not NATO.  Not even a smattering of European allies. Instead, Obama has resorted to going it alone by inking an executive order that might restrict the approval of certain Russian visas into the U.S; and, too, he may also use his 'pen' to draft executive orders which would tie up Russian assets.

If this sounds all too familiar, it is.  Instead of a Congress that won't work with him, he now has an international community that won't work with him either.  In both cases, our President is being publicly exposed as a feckless leader who lacks the negotiation skills necessary to take on any real challenges and make things happen.

So, he must, once again, resort to his only avenues of leadership: His "pen and a phone".  En garde!

Oh, yes, I forgot one other thing he uses to bring his foes to their knees: Speeches!  And, lot's of 'em!

Back Story: Obama’s 7 State of the Union talking points. No. 6: ‘The Pen and Phone’ strategy:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rising Long-Term Unemployment: Proof Of Obama's Mishandling of the Economy

Recently, when the February jobs report was released, a number of Democrats and left-leaning media types jumped on the fact that the number of people who were out of work for more than 26 weeks had suddenly risen by 203,000.  Conveniently proving that the Democrats proposed extension of long-term unemployment benefits -- which are now stalled in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives -- is sorely needed.  Of course, some on the political right would say that the sudden jump in this number is another negative in Obama's handling of the economy and that the President's over-regulation is why we have so many long-term unemployed.  So to prove those people wrong, the far-left MSNBC was compelled to come to Obama's defense by showing long-term unemployment declining every year since he took office:

While that chart certainly shows what might look like a positive for Obama, the chart they aren't showing you is this one from the Huffington Post:

It clearly shows that we are at record high levels of long-term unemployment as a percentage of overall unemployment.  Of the 10.5 million unemployed in February, 37% are still long-term unemployed. That's more than double than the absolutely worst levels under any president since 1948. At the current rate of decline, we won't get back to pre-recession levels for decades to come. 

As far as extending unemployment benefits are concerned, we shouldn't be concerned.  What is being ignored in all of this debate over extending benefits is the fact that there are so many so-called safety nets in the system that people are better off without that unemployment check.  Without it, they get a welfare check, free Medicaid, housing assistance, subsidized child care, Earned Income Tax Credits, free Obama-phones, Food Stamps, and oh so many goodies that it just doesn't pay to have a job.  So, instead of Democrats telling the truth that they have made it better not to work, they, instead, want to use extended unemployment benefits as a wedge election issue to once again make Republicans look heartless.


Long-term unemployment rises:

February Unemployment Report:

Strong Jobs Report Could Mean Bad News For Unemployment Benefits:

From Delay-Is-Not-An-Option Sebelius: No More Delays of ObamaCare

Recently, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she didn't anticipate any further delays of ObamaCare.  Of course, this is this same Sebelius that said "delay is not an option"; even though, as of now, there have been at least 30 such delays of a variety of major mandates of the healthcare law.

This time though, she might be actually telling the truth; as hard as that may be to swallow.  That's because all the "most" damaging parts of the law have been shelved until after the elections.  Some even past the 2016 elections. So, what's left? Hardly anything.  My guess is that Obama and the Democrats will be content with people "voluntarily" and, I suppose, happily signing up for exchange-based insurance through the balance of this year.  This way, the angry and "vocal" and forced signups will be silenced and the Dems will just skate through the elections unharmed.  Anyway, that appears to be Sebelius and Obama's plan.

What Republicans need to do is keep reminding the voters that "delay" is not a "fix" for what is an extremely bad and damaging law.  The turmoil and anger that was seen last Fall is still waiting to rear its ugly head again in 2015, 2016, and 2017.  There isn't enough lipstick in the world to make this pig look good


Sebelius: No more ObamaCare delays:

Sebelius: Obamacare "delay is not an option":

Friday, March 7, 2014

Harry Reid: All ObamaCare Horror Stories Are Lies

According to Senate majority leader Harry Reid, all horror stories related to ObamaCare are lies.

So, if you're a woman with late-stage cancer and you lost your insurance, your doctor, your hospital, and your oncologist, and the cost for your coverage has doubled or tripled, you are a liar.  So, I guess, too, Lawrence Basich, a man from Harry's home state of Nevada, who lost his insurance and couldn't sign up for ObamaCare through the failing Silver State Health Insurance Exchange and, then, had a heart attack and racked up $400,000 in hospital bills that he is now personally responsible for, is just another liar. Obviously, Mr. Basich must of perjured himself when he testified before the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange Board of Directors about his very personal ObamaCare story. 

All Harry is trying to do is use the time-honored Democrat tactic of shooting the messenger.  Let's discredit all those medical nightmares as lies and, in theory, Americans will stop listening to them. But, this tactic simply amplifies the fact there are far more negative stories being told than positive ones.  This is a problem for Democrats going into the November elections.  The fact that the President has delayed so much of his namesake law until we've passed this year's elections proves that ObamaCare is one big horror story.  If not, why delay any part of it?


 Harry Reid: All Obamacare horror stories are ‘untrue’:

(Las Vegas) Valley man explains passionate plea to health exchange board:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Elijah Cummings Now Knows What It's Like To Have One Political Party Exclude Another

On Wednesday, following the Lois Lerner hearings over the IRS Scandal, Representative Elijah Cummings exploded over being left silent during the hearings:
“I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America! I am tired of this.... You cannot just have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely something wrong with that and it is absolutely un-American.”
Apparently, Mr. Cummings, a Democrat, has forgotten that it was his party and him included that completely excluded any Republican input into the crafting of the healthcare reform law.  Instead, they privately went behind closed doors to develop it.  If Cummings thinks that being silenced during a rather small Congressional hearing is un-American then, what about an entire political party being silenced in the passage of ObamaCare?  You're living in a glass house Elijah. Don't throw stones.

Cummings has been trying to derail these hearings from day one; and, that's the reason for this latest outburst. It was an attempt to paint the hearings, and Darrell Issa, as being un-American.   This kind of anger and tactic merely shows that he is afraid that Issa's pursuits will expose a connection to the IRS Scandal to levels that might go as high as the White House itself.  Otherwise, if he truly felt that there were no White House implications, he would just sit back and let the process die on its own.  As so many Congressional hearings have done in the past.

Story:  Elijah Cummings erupts at Darrell Issa over ‘one-sided, un-American’ IRS probe:

Al Gore Predicting The Return Of The Dust Bowl Proves His Lack Of Scientific Knowledge

Recently, in front of a Kansas City assemblage of sympathetic global warming believers, Al Gore reverted back to his old and stale "Inconvenient Truth" predictions that global warming will result in rising seas and increased floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or whatever natural disaster he could possibly think of. Of course, none of this crap that he's been selling for years is even near to being a "Truth" -- Inconvenient or otherwise -- thanks to a flat-lining of global temperatures since 1998.

Always the consummate soothsayer of gloom and doom, Al served up a very special treat for this Kansas audience by stating: “The Dust Bowl is coming back, quickly, unless we act.”  Thus evoking the memories of the 1930's when Kansas and the rest of the Great Plains were hit with drought and, subsequently, massive wind-driven waves of choking airborne dust.

What Al doesn't seem to understand is that Kansas and the Great Plains had always seen droughts in the past; never with such clouds of dust rising into the skies.  But, what made the 1930's so different was the fact that years of mechanized and deep plowing  destroyed the vegetation-bound topsoil which, in the past, had protected the land from turning into dust. Today, thanks to better soil management techniques such as cover crops and crop rotation and surface-only tillage, the days of the Dust Bowl years are very unlikely to ever happen again.

This just proves, once again, that Al Gore is more about being a "fire and brimstone" preacher who paints images of wrath to bring people into the fold, and less about "Truth" and true science.


Al Gore Brings Climate Message To Kansas City:

Dust Bowl:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Comedy On The World Stage: Barney Fife Versus Vladimir Putin

I think most people are well aware of the Barney Fife character from the Andy Griffith show, with his shaky gun hand, empty weapon, and a single bullet in his buttoned shirt pocket.  I suspect that Vladamir Putin has looked into Obama's eyes and all he sees is Barney  Fife.  Maybe, even, Barney Fife "light".  Sadly, Obama doesn't have "Andy" around to pull his behind out of the fire when things really get rough.

Just a few years ago -- six to be exact -- moving U.S. warships into an adversary's backyard meant something; especially when it was a guy like George Bush, a known war hawk, who was directing the movement.  Putin understood this and respected such power.  But, when Obama challenged Putin by moving U.S. warships into the Black Sea, it was like Barney drawing his unloaded gun.  Putin knew quite well it was just an idle threat.  After all, he observed our President's weak behavior in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons. Then, when Obama said there would be "costs" if Russia went any further on his movement into Crimea and the Ukraine, Putin responded by moving fresh troops into the area.  Are you getting the picture?

Obama told Russia that the United States will "stand" with the Europeans and the rest of the world (not lead) and that there will be "costs".  But, will the rest of the world really stand with us and will there truly be costs?

First of all, Russia, as a member of the United Nation's Security Council, has veto power and nothing that condemns them or that would impose sanctions on them would ever come out of the U.N.  So, then, that leaves NATO to act against Russia's aggression.  Except for the United States, all the other member nations are out of Europe.  Russia supplies Europe with 20% of its natural gas and 38% of all its imported oil.  If threatened by sanctions, Russia need only respond by turning off the gas and oil supplies and the "costs" would be much greater than what Obama and NATO could inflict on Putin.  We know this can be done for a fact because, in 2006, Russia, in a dispute over natural gas pricing, cut pipeline deliveries of gas to the Ukraine and "Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Slovakia all reported drops of around 30%."

Once again, Putin has put Obama in check and is now just waiting to declare checkmate.  The only thing our Fife-like President can do is give speeches of condemnation and watch Putin take what he wants.  While it is possible that Obama might go it alone and place some limited sanctions on Russia, Putin still might punish Europe in retaliation.  For sure, Putin absolutely knows that Obama will never unbutton that shirt pocket of his and actually load that bullet.


Obama warns Russia of 'costs' for intervention in Ukraine:

Ukraine/Russia gas dispute: The European Impact:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Spike Lee's Questionable 'Gentrification' of Brooklyn Rant

Recently, in a speech that was supposed to celebrate Black History Month, Spike Lee went off on how his old neighborhood in Brooklyn was being transformed into a White, upscale enclave.  He further complained that, when he was living there,  it was a Black neighborhood with little or no police protection and, even, not enough garbage pickup.

Now, I can't speak to what Spike Lee's experience was like when he was living in Brooklyn but, like a lot of  minority neighborhoods in a lot of major cities, police and other public service presence is deterred by excessive violence.  In many communities, police aren't even wanted. To be sure, violence isn't just a Black neighborhood problem.  Many Italian neighborhoods of the past saw mob and mafia violence that ruled those communities. And, it's this violence that resulted in many minorities, themselves, fleeing the crime ridden parts of America's cities.  As a consequence, housing prices decline and the community continually sees an influx of a poorer class of people.

What Lee failed to recognize in his rant is the fact that many of his fellow Blacks, well before him, fled his old neighborhood, leaving it to more violence, lower home values and, yes, to less police protection and garbage pickup.  Now, I assume that people are moving back into Spike's old haunts because the last two Mayors, Giuliani and Bloomberg, made reducing crime a hallmark of their administrations. 

What Mr. Lee ought to be asking himself is why some affluent Blacks, along with all those affluent Whites,  aren't moving into his Brooklyn neighborhood.  Could there be some other racial prejudice going on?


 Not just Spike Lee's Brooklyn: Gentrification spurs tensions nationwide:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

New Nutrition Labels: Obviously, Obesity Is Due To Poor Eyesight!

Have you seen the Obama's newly mandated "Nutrition Facts" labels for all processed foods sold in America?  Well, here's the proposed modifications:
The most notable change is the that calorie counts and servings per container are a lot bigger and a lot bolder with much of the data remaining the same as before. According to Michelle Obama and the FDA, this change will "only" cost the "food industry" $2 billion but it will return between $20 billion and $30 billion in better health over 20 years.  Of course, the non-political truth is that you and I will ultimately pay for this with higher prices; not some fuzzy entity like the "food industry" as Michelle would have you believe.

So, really, all this time we could have solved the obesity problem in this country by assisting our weak-sighted population by making the calorie and servings numbers large enough so that you could read them from across the street. Well, I certainly would like to see the "science" behind that "fact".  Further,  I would especially like to see the science that said that the extra large type had to be of just this size and amount of boldness.  Apparently, a text that was half as large just wouldn't cut it.

And, what about all those savings in health expenses?  Certainly, $20 to $30 billion does sound like a lot of money. But, it's over 20 years and against a population of 317 million.  So, the math says that each of us will save between $63 and less than $100 in health expenses over those 20 years; assuming the population stays the same as today.  I just don't know how, in any way, that savings in health costs could even be quantified by merely changing the type size on a nutrition label.

To me, this is just another political stunt, in a political year, by the Obama's to make people think they are really going to cure obesity by forcing food companies to ante-up with billions in new costs.   The simple matter is that those people who are concerned enough about their health and food intake are going to read any nutrition label; no matter what the type size is.  Enlarging it is not going to deter the true over-eater who uses high calorie food as a source of comfort or enjoyment.


Food labels to get first makeover in 20 years: