Thursday, September 26, 2013

Standing Tall

Even before Senator Ted Cruz (TX) began his historical filibuster on the Senate floor debating Obamacare, critics appeared in droves to point out that he was fighting a losing battle.  The criticism did not only come from the mainstream media and the Democrats but also from the GOP.  One thing was certain, after remaining on his feet for over 20 hours (21 hours and 19 minutes to be exact), unbeknownst to his critics, Cruz had made a decisive victory.

New York Times (NYT) targeted Cruz by stating that he was nothing more than the “public face of the aimless and self-destructive Tea Party.”  Indeed, according to the NYT, Cruz’s stand was a show to gain “accolades” from the “Tea Party’s misguided faithful.”   NYT further blamed Cruz of projecting “nastiness” towards those in Washington.  Of course, we should all listen to the characterization of Cruz by a newspaper that prior to WWII claimed that Hitler was a “wiser man” and had convinced authorities that he was harmless.  

Fast on the heels of NYT was none other than Senator John McCain (AZ) who demanded that Cruz (and Americans) should “respect the outcome of the elections, which reflects the will of the people.”  McCain failed to mention that many Americans who voted for Obama in 2012 are now regretting their decision of supporting Obamacare.  For example, during the filibuster, Cruz read excerpts from a letter written by a major Obamacare supporter and union leader of International Brotherhood of Teamsters, James P. Hoffa.  The letter mentioned that even Hoffa and his friends admitted there were considerable problems with Obamacare that shall hurt middle class Americans.

Yet, none of this stopped Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, to put in an appearance on late Wednesday morning to tell Cruz that standing up for Americans was a “waste of time.”  Furthermore, Reid refused to acknowledge Cruz’s stand as a proper filibuster.  When Cruz asked for an open vote to allow both Republicans and Democrats to offer amendments to the bill, Reid dismissed the offer.  For all his concern for the average Americans, Reid’s unwillingness to accept Cruz’s offer to have an open vote on defunding Obamacare is most curious.   

To be sure, the mainstream media and career politicians have worked hard to make a mockery out of Cruz’s filibuster. Unfortunately, for them, in their haste to present a distorted image of Cruz, they failed to notice that Americans were also watching the proceedings.  Cruz made history this week by holding one of the longest filibusters in American history.  He displaced Senators William Proxmire (18 hours, 23 minutes: 1908) and Robert LaFollette Sr. (16 hours, 12 minutes: 1981) from their respective positions and attained the number 4 position in the historical lineup of recorded filibusters. 

Cruz did not stand for ideology, power, or show but for the American people.  He stood for the Constitution and our founding principles.  He stood for the American Dream.  He stood for an exceptional America.  Whether or not Reid and his colleagues call it a filibuster, the image of Cruz standing tall for America shall remain etched in the hearts and minds of Americans forever.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It’s Lonely on Top

Recently, actor Hugh Jackman stated that he felt sorry for Obama.  Jackman thought Obama was “lonely” and probably went “to bed alone thinking about the weight and burden” of the crisis in Syria.  Obama’s recent difficulties may arise from a lack of having a strong foreign policy when dealing with Syria but the troubles Americans must confront every day, under his leadership, are boundless.

Consider for example, millions of Americans who are (and have been) out of work for much of Obama’s presidency.  In 2007, the unemployment rate stood between 4.4 - 5.0 percent.  Today, the unemployment rate in America is stuck at 7.3 percent.  If we factor the labor force participation rate (LPR) with the current unemployment rate, the figure jumps up even more.  (I have written on LPR previously and you can read about it here). 

Additionally, under Obamacare, more Americans are losing their jobs.  Even for those who have jobs, many must transition from full time to part time status, which means less pay for workers.  Precisely how are Americans supposed to support their families?  Obama does not answer this question but continues to claim that Obamacare is best for America.

Furthermore, the United States Military also suffers under Obama’s leadership.  Under the guise of “budget restraints,” Obama has planned to shrink the US Military.  How gutting our military secures our nation is a great question especially under the present circumstances with Syria that may lead to troubles for America in the near future. 

After the unfortunate deaths of four Americans in Benghazi and the subsequent cover up that followed, how many military personnel feel secure about their lives under his authority?  What must go through the minds of men and women who must follow his command?  Do the families of those Americans who lost their lives and those Americans who put their lives on the line for our freedom also feel burdened? 

To be sure, Obama claims America is better off today than ever before but diminishing jobs, lack of national security, and Americans suffering from heartbreak over lost loved ones all show a different reality.  As with Jackman, I too feel sorry for Obama.  I feel sorry that Obama is incapable of leading our great nation.  More than anything else, I feel sorry for the millions of Americans who are jobless and need to find ways to support their families.  I feel sorry for the men and women who must protect us at the risk of their own lives under the command of a leader who could not care less.  Yes, I feel sorry for my country, once the greatest nation in the world, duped by the big rhetoric of an inordinately small man.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Importance of Labor Force Participation to Understanding Economic Recovery

Labor Economics Senior Policy Analyst, James Sherk, recently released a report for The Heritage Foundation that explains how the economy is not growing but shrinking.  Sherk notes that since the beginning of the recession in December 2007, the labor force participation rate (LPR) has fallen to historical lows.  Indeed, if we consider the LPR, along with the recorded unemployed Americans, the unemployment rate becomes much higher.

The LPR measures the number of working age adults in the labor market.  Sherk notes, “Since the recession began, the labor force participation rate---the proportion of adults either working or trying to find work---has fallen by 2.6 percentage points.”  When reporting the unemployment rate, the government only counts people who remain employed or are actively seeking employment.  Therefore, those individuals who have given up on their job search or left the labor market are missing from the unemployment rate.   As a result, the unemployment rate that makes the headlines is often only partially correct.

To be sure, many Americans are exiting the labor market because of retirement but this covers only a small fraction of the LPR.  Sherk notes that although some of the change is because of “demographic factors” it only accounts for “one-quarter of the decrease.”  Indeed, the “weak labor market” is primarily the reason that caused the “remaining three-fourths drop in labor force participation.”  Those who contributed to the drop include Americans, young and old, who have become dejected and given up looking for a job.

When considering the unemployment rate as a marker for economic growth and rejuvenation, it bears to keep in mind that the unemployment rate alone is hardly an accurate measure of our nation’s economic condition.  By counting only those individuals who are working (either full or part time), the unemployment rate dilutes the true state of the nation’s economy.  As Sherk’s report shows, the economy remains weak because there are few jobs and many more unemployed Americans.  Thereby, the actual economic state of our country is not a thriving economy but one where Americans remain unemployed and hopeless.   

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Forgotten

Barack Obama’s victory in the 2008 election came from a massive turnout of black voters.  55.4 percent of blacks, ages 18-24 years and 64.0 percent of blacks, ages 25-44 years, voted for Obama in 2008.  In 2012, Obama had another victory with support from 93 percent of black voters who voted for him again.  The record shows that Obama has repeatedly won favor amongst blacks but how has his presidency affected the overall black community?

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, as of July 2013, the unemployment rate in America hovers around 7.4 percent.  Of this percentage, the highest unemployment rate affects the black population with men over the age of 20 unemployed at a rate of 12.4 percent and women over the age of 20 slightly below at 11.3 percent.  Young men and women ages 16-19 years suffer the greatest blow with an unemployment rate of 42.9 percent. 

Furthermore, black homeownership is now at an 18 year low.  For many Americans, regardless of their ethnic background, owning a home is part of the American dream.  Yet, the historic low rate of home ownership especially for blacks today indicates that for many of them, the dream is far from reachable.

To be sure, the first black president of the United States has every desire to help dreamers.  Unfortunately, he is only interested in helping those who help him to sustain power.  In 2008 and 2012, it was the black community that helped him reach his goal.  Today, it is the Hispanic community.  Indeed, they are the new “dreamers” and the attention they receive from Obama and his administration, often at the expense of the black community (and other Americans), is a clear example of his priorities.     

Yet, despite these facts, it is impossible for those who follow Obama blindly to consider their situation worse.  After all, they are happy with free cell phones and that is just enough to keep them quiet.  They will gladly give up their freedom for the freebies.  Still many others are prone to following celebrities who have earnestly titled Obama their “lord and savior.”  Unfortunately, these individuals too remain unreachable. 

On the other hand, for the reasonable and intelligent individuals in the way of Benjamin Banneker, Phyllis Wheatley, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the circumstances affecting the black community need serious reflection.  President Ronald Reagan once suggested, “Ask yourself are you better off now than you were four years ago?”  The true answer to this simple question is worthy of attention not only by blacks but all Americans.  It is also a great place to begin finding solutions for our real problems.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cost of Amnesty

In their special report for the Heritage Foundation, The Fiscal Cost of Unlawful Immigrants and Amnesty to the U.S. Taxpayer, Robert Rector and Jason Richwine, Ph.D. present a well-researched study on how any immigration “reform” that supports amnesty will affect Americans for years to come.  The report is extensive and covers direct benefits, means tested welfare benefits, public education, and population based services.  Although most of the information in the report is relevant, a few points are especially worthy of mention.
One important point the authors make is to show the difference between net tax contributors and net tax consumers.  For example, they state that, “well-educated households tend to be net tax contributors” where the taxes paid by these individuals “exceed the direct and means-tested benefits, education, and population-based services they receive.”  On the other hand, net tax consumers, receive benefits that “exceed the taxes they pay” and that “these households generate a ‘fiscal deficit’ that must be financed by taxes from other households or by government borrowing.”  In either case, that means American taxpayers have to pay more money to the government in the form of taxes to support the net tax consumer households.
Furthermore, the authors explain the significance of understanding the connection between net tax contributing households, amnesty and net tax consumer households that have a “high deficit.”  They point out that most individuals in the high deficit households are “poorly educated” and that “the typical unlawful immigrant has only a 10th-grade education.”  The idea that these individuals could create jobs for Americans or move up from being net tax consumer households to net tax contributing households seems farfetched.
Moreover, although illegal immigrants are unable to “access to means-tested welfare, Social Security, or Medicare” now, they still enjoy the benefits of hospitals; public education; parks and recreation; roads; police; and fire protection.  All of this including access to American jobs without having to pay taxes shows illegal immigrants are hardly in the “shadows” as many supporters of amnesty claim.  If anything, in many cases, illegal immigrants manage better through government plans when compared to their out of work American neighbors.
Consider for example, that an average American household receives “$31,600 in government benefits each year” but a household headed by “individuals with less than a high school degree gets $46,000.”  If the amnesty plan were successful, illegal immigrants would have access to “80 means-tested welfare programs, Obamacare, Social Security, and Medicare.”  At a time when unemployment remains hovering at 7.4 percent are the pockets of American taxpayers truly that deep to support a surge of 11 million illegal immigrants with more to arrive in the future.
The authors present a solid study backed with research to support their claims.  They successfully manage to debunk any myths about illegal immigrants pushed by amnesty supporters.  Complete with charts, graphs, and extensive analysis, this report is worth inspecting for anyone interested in understanding how amnesty will financially affect Americans now and in the future.