« February 2012 | Main | April 2012 »

March 31, 2012

Physicians Against ObamaCare

Despite all their tough questions for Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, there's still a fair chance the Supreme Court will find that ObamaCare is constitutional.  Even if they find the mandate unconstitutional, the Court may still leave most of ObamaCare standing by ruling that the mandate is severable from the rest of the law.  This would create a huge mess.

AmericanDoctors4Truth and Docs4PatientCare have joined forces to produce this TV commercial explaining the "catastrophic effects" of ObamaCare.  Unless the Court rules to throw ObamaCare out in its entirey, there is really only one solution.  Repeal.  It's "the first step to effective and lasting reform."

Posted by Tom Bowler at 01:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 30, 2012

A Positive Note

One of my favorite bloggers, Richard Fernandez of Pajamas Media, detected a threatening tone in comments by Senator Richard Blumenthal, the former Democratic attorney general of Connecticut. 

Blumenthal said the US Supreme Court  would damage itself if it found Obamacare unconstitutional.

“The court commands no armies, it has no money; it depends for its power on its credibility. The only reason people obey it is because it has that credibility. And the court risks grave damage if it strikes down a statute of this magnitude and importance, and stretches so dramatically and drastically to do it.”

How reminiscent of Josef Stalin:

Churchill was telling Stalin, “that is why I attach such paramount importance to good neighborly relations between a restored Poland and the Soviet Union. It was for the freedom and independence of Poland that Britain went into this war. The British feel a sense of moral responsibility to the Polish people, to their spiritual values. It is also important that Poland is a Catholic country. We cannot allow internal developments there to complicate our relations with the Vatican…”

“How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?” Stalin asked, suddenly interrupting Churchill’s line of reasoning.

Churchill stopped short. He had not expected such a question.

But Fernandez concluded on a positive note.

And by the way, the Soviet Union is gone, but there’s still a Poland. And last I heard, there was still a Pope.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 08:29 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 27, 2012

Necessary and Proper

Ilya Somin expects the Supreme Court to issue a ruling on ObamaCare this year, and if it decides that the mandate is constitutional, it will not be on the basis of its being a tax

Thus, today’s events do not bode well for the federal government’s constitutional tax argument. However, there are two caveats to this conjecture. First, the justices sometimes ask questions for rhetorical effect or play devil’s advocate. I don’t think they are doing so here, but obviously I can’t be sure. Second, it is theoretically possible that the constitutional definition of what qualifies as a “tax” is broader than the AIA definition. This is not the usual view of the matter...

Even if the federal government loses on the tax argument, they could still win on the Commerce Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause. The latter is probably their strongest point.

Since my legal education came mostly from Law and Order and Perry Mason re-runs, my opinion on the constitutionality of ObamaCare based on the Necessary and Proper Clause is not something you should take as a sound legal argument against it.  Here it is anyway.

Conceding that Ilya Somin is correct when he says the strongest argument for the constitutionality of the mandate is based on the Necessary and Proper Clause, my question is this:  How can the mandate be necessary and proper when the law itself is arguably unnecessary and its passage was improper? 

A window of opportunity opened for Democrats to push through a piece of unpopular legislation, and they took it.  ObamaCare was passed by means of legalized bribery where Senate holdouts were offered special incentives to vote in favor.  The Louisiana Purchase and the Corhhusker Kick Back were the most notable and most egregious examples. 

Passage also depended upon legislative gimmicks.  Scott Brown, a Republican who was elected to the Senate in Massachusetts to replace Ted Kennedy, became the 41st vote against ObamaCare.  At the time that he took his seat there were differences between the Senate and House versions of ObamaCare.  When that happens bills usually go to conference committee so that differences can be resolved, then a final bill is voted on again in each house.  In the wake of Senator Brown's election, Democratic congressional leaders ruled out conference committee resolution of the differing ObamaCare bills out of fear that there were no longer enough votes in the Senate to pass the conference committee bill.  Instead the House resorted to something called "deem and pass" to avoid another Senate vote on the bill, which most likely would have come up short.

ObamaCare was the reason Scott Brown got elected.  The looming prospect of ObamaCare on the political horizon motivated people by the hundreds of thousands to descend upon Washington, DC in September of 2009 to protest against it.  When it got rammed through and signed by President Obama anyway, the opposition did not dissipate.  Instead Democrats got an historic shellacking in the 2010 midterm elections, and the opposition has grown since then.

How does it make sense for the Court to profoundly impact the relationship between citizens and their government for the sake legislation that has such a good chance of being repealed in 2013? 

Congress provides the best argument against the mandate.  Most members of Congress did not know what was in ObamaCare when they voted for it.  Remember when Speaker Pelosi urged members to vote for it so that they could learn what is in it?  Should a mandate be ruled necessary and proper to the implementation of legislation that Congress doesn't even know what it is?

ObamaCare is, at best, an approach to solving a problem, but it is not the only approach.  The ObamaCare solution is a top down model that relies upon government mandates for everything.  It seeks to mandate what coverage is provided, at what cost, and by whom.  It mandates how much doctors will be paid for their services, and it mandates how much of it states must pay. As in so many top down models, it fails to deliver as promised.  In fact, it has failed to do the primary excuse for its passage.  That is to "bend the cost curve down," which ObamaCare has predictably failed to achieve.  The mandate will not make it work.

A more realistic approach to health care reform would involve less government interference and more competition in a free and open market.  We have several examples where deregulation has reduced cost by fostering competition among an expanding pool of suppliers.  Prior to the breakup of AT&T the cost of a single long distance phone call could be higher than a month of unlimited phone, text, and data in today's unregulated market.  When adjusted for inflation the cost of an airline ticket has dropped significantly since deregulation.  It was predictable, which was the point of deregulating.  Yet in health care we're expected to believe that reduced competition and increased regulation is somehow going to improve service and reduce costs.  The idea is absurd.

Can the mandate be ruled "Necessary and Proper" to the implementation of a law that itself is neither necessary nor proper?

Update:  The oral arguments over the individual mandate are done and according to Jeffrey Toobin of CNN today was a train wreck for the administration.

The Supreme Court just wrapped up the second day of oral arguments in the landmark case against President Obama's healthcare overhaul, and reports from inside the courtroom indicate that the controversial law took quite a beating.

Today's arguments focused around the central constitutional question of whether Congress has the power to force Americans to either pay for health insurance or pay a penalty.

According to CNN's legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, the arguments were "a train wreck for the Obama administration."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli focused on dollars and cents while the justices probed the constitutional issues.

In his brief, Verrilli argued that insured people account for at least $43 billion of uncompensated health-care costs each year and that much of that is passed on to people with coverage, adding about $1,000 a year to family insurance policies.

Still, Scalia and several other justices seemed unconvinced that Verrilli had articulated a principle by which Congress’s authority under the Constitution’s commerce clause could be limited.

“Government is supposed to be a government of limited powers,” he said. “What is left if the government can do this? What can it not do?”

Justice Kennedy, who is often the crucial swing vote on issues, appeared to be swinging conservative today. From Adam Liptak of the New York Times:

“Can you create commerce in order to regulate it?” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy asked the lawyer, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., only minutes into the argument.

Sam Baker of The Hill:

Liberal justices on the court appeared to be more favorable to the government’s argument on the mandate, and if they unite behind the law, the Justice Department would need to just peel Kennedy away to secure a majority.

But Kennedy didn’t sound like he was in the administration’s camp on Tuesday.

The Reagan-appointee argued the court has a “very heavy burden of justification” for requiring that people purchase insurance. He also indentified the insurance mandate is the first time the government has used its regulatory powers to force citizens to buy a product.

“That changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in a very fundamental way,” Kennedy said.

The Hill provides the full transcript here.

Meanwhile, Ed Morrissey just weighed in with five possibilities.  Here are two of them.  First on the question of the constitutionality of the mandate.

3. Overturn the individual mandate alone
Easily the most unpopular part of the bill, the individual mandate, which requires Americans to obtain health insurance, is also the most constitutionally fraught. It's also the financial linchpin of ObamaCare. Without it, the insurers who gave qualified support for the PPACA would go broke, thanks to additional must-insure mandates and an abolition of bars on pre-existing conditions. Given the already-expressed skepticism from Breyer and Ginsburg about the argument that the mandate is a tax, the real possibility exists that the court may strike this down, and not just on a 5-4 vote. During Tuesday's argument, swing justice Anthony Kennedy was "enormously skeptical" of the individual mandate, as CNN's Jeffrey Toobin put it. Indeed, the punditocracy's instant analysis suggests the mandate is not long for this world.

Next is on the question of severability.

4. Overturn the entire bill
Two lower courts split on the question of whether a lack of a severability clause in the PPACA meant that Congress intended the bill to be an all-or-nothing proposition. If the court determines that one or more of the components are unconstitutional — especially the central individual mandate — and that Congress deliberately chose not to include a severability clause, then the court could throw out the entire PPACA.

If the court strikes down the mandate on a 5-4 split and/or throws out the whole bill, mandate advocates could argue that the court took a political rather than legal position. But that won't convince anyone except the true believers. With a majority of people already opposed to the individual mandate, it would only deepen their impression of ObamaCare as a radical departure, and make it even less likely that Obama could fashion a way to salvage the framework of his reform — even if House Republicans were inclined to help Obama escape from the trap. If one or more of the liberal justices join in declaring the mandate and/or the entire bill unconstitutional, then the PPACA becomes an albatross around Obama's neck, and also those Democrats in the Senate running for re-election.

I especially like the part about it being a albatross.  Warms my heart.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2012

Landmark Week

There is the possibility that the Supreme Court will kick the can down the road when they decide the constitutionality of ObamaCare.  Grace-Marie Turner gives a bullet point breakdown of the questions that will be argued before the court.  First up:

10 a.m. Monday: 90 minutes on whether the fine associated with the individual mandate is a penalty or a tax. If it’s a penalty, then the court can proceed with deciding whether the mandate is constitutional. If the justices decide it’s a tax, we’ll have to wait until someone who doesn’t buy health insurance in 2014 pays the “tax” in 2015, when the legal challenge must start all over again.

It's my non-expert opinion that the justices will not decide ObamaCare's mandate is a tax and defer a decision until 2014, but it is a possibility.  The question then would be, why agree to hear the case now?

10 a.m. Tuesday: Two hours of argument on the individual mandate. Is it constitutional for Congress to mandate that free citizens must purchase government-defined private health insurance with their own money, under penalty of federal law?

In my view this is the key question, and I have a hard time imagining that the justices will so disrupt the fabric of our government by granting Congress this kind of power over individuals.  But then, we could be in trouble if enough justices are sympathetic to the views of Ruth Bader-Ginsburg who recently urged Egyptians not to use U.S. Constitution as a model as they write a new one.  It doesn't guarantee food, medical care, and education, a shortcoming which she might seek to correct by her ObamaCare decisions.

10 a.m. Wednesday: Ninety minutes on severability. If the mandate is unconstitutional, is it severable from the rest of the law?

Didn't Congress say that it was not severable when they removed the severability clause from the final bill?

2 p.m. Wednesday: One hour on the mandatory Medicaid expansion. This is the main event that the states are waiting for: Can the federal government require the states to expand their Medicaid programs to a level many say will bankrupt them as a condition of receiving current Medicaid funding?

If Obamacare is upheld it will be left to the voters to restore liberty by overturning the politicians who passed it and sending new representatives to Washington who will repeal it.

This is the battle for liberty of our time, and if all or part of the law were to be upheld, it will become the central issue in 2012 general election campaigns where the voters will be the last line of defense to protect us from Obamacare’s assault on our freedom.

Obama might do better in 2012 if his health care law is ruled unconstitutional than if it is left standing.  We're going to see some motivated voters this fall either way, but the stakes are much higher if the Supreme Court leaves ObamaCare in place.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 06:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2012

Unforced Error

Rick Santorum now says he would just as soon have Barack Obama win a second term if Mitt Romney beats him out for the Republican nomination, which at this point seems assured.

"You win by giving people a choice," Santorum said during a campaign stop in Texas. "You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who's just going to be a little different than the person in there."

Santorum added: "If they're going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future."

Santorum was referring to an unfortunate statement by Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom who said that the fall campaign would be a new start, "almost like an Etch A Sketch."  Santorum jumped all over it, promoting it as evidence that Romney will say anything to win the presidency. 

Hmmm. Pot, meet kettle.  It's a stunning statement by Santorum which he made while campaigning in front of conservatve crowds in Texas.  If it has any effect at all, though, it may just hasten his departure from the race.  Quite frankly, I'm in favor of that.  With his strongest support coming from the most conservative of us, Santorum strikes me as a candidate most unlikely to win in the general election. 

South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, it seems, doesn't disagree.  While Rick Santorum was turning the Romney campaign gaffe into a major gaffe of his own, DeMint stepped up to say, it's time for the Santorum and Gingrich campaigns to reassess.

“They can drag it out to the convention if they want, but I think if some of them look at where they are, the best thing they can do is maybe look at throwing their support behind the one who might be our nominee — and that’s beginning to look like Romney,” he said.

Even though he has so far steered clear of making any 2012 endorsements, Senator DeMint is not at all uncomfortable with the Romney as the Republican candidate.  He was, after all, national co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s 2008 presidential bid. Now, his focus is on defeating President Barack Obama.

“What I can tell conservatives from my perspective is that I’m not only comfortable with Romney, I’m excited about the possibility of him possibly becoming our nominee,” DeMint told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Santorum as the conservative savior is an image that looks less and less realistic the further along we go.  He's now gone so far overboard campaigning to save us from Mitt Romney, that he offers an Obama second term as a viable alternative to himself.  Could he have come up with something dumber to say?  Senator Santorum, please go away.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 08:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 22, 2012

Déjà Vu All Over Again!

As you've probably heard by now, legislation to codify the "Buffett Rule" into tax law was introduced and then analysed by the Joint Committee on Taxation who estimated that the bill would rake in $47 billion over the course of eleven years. 

The plan is named for billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who has said taxes on the rich are too low. Obama has proposed requiring that people earning at least $1 million annually pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, but has provided few details.

In an analysis provided to The AP on Tuesday, Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that a bill introduced last month by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., attempting to enshrine Obama's proposal into law would collect $47 billion through 2022. The measure has little chance of advancing soon, especially before the November elections.

That's a much less rosy prediction than the estimate put forth by the The Tax Policy Center which had projected a $114 billion gain over the next ten years.  Either way, it's not much of a dent in the deficit.

This year, the Buffett rule would increase federal revenues by all of $1.1 billion.

That's less than one-tenth of one percent of the $1.2 trillion budget deficit Mr. Obama is scheduled to run this year. Through 2022 Joint Tax expects less than $47 billion in total new revenues from the Buffett rule while the government will be adding trillions of dollars to the national debt. Joint Tax even concedes, as it is rarely wont to do, that the rule will affect taxpayer behavior: By raising the effective tax rate on capital gains, the rule will encourage people to realize fewer capital gains.

Since Mr. Buffett has never been shy about touting his ability to avoid capital-gains taxes, the sage of Omaha was never going to take much of a tax hit himself.

In other words, the only way we're going to keep up with President Obama's spending habits is by raising taxes on more of us than just the "millionaires and billionaires."  How?  Stealth.

If the Buffett ruse is ever enacted, expect it to become a kind of Super Alternative Minimum Tax, slowly grabbing less affluent taxpayers—perhaps even Mr. Buffett's secretary—as inflation and income growth push people into higher tax brackets. That's where the real money is.

Welcome to 1981!  A key feature of the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, also known as the "Kemp-Roth Tax Cut," was the indexing of tax rates to inflation.  Oh yippee... We get to fight that battle all over again.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 09:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2012

Our Objective Media in Action

Did you hear that Malia Obama and 12 of her friends went on vacation to Oaxaca, Mexico?  You couldn't care less, you say?  Well I don't either if you want to know the truth.  But an interesting thing happened.  News stories about it just disappeared.  Gone.

The big question, of course, was why?  Why is an apparently properly sourced story vanishing?  If it was false, one would expect White House push-back, with the news sources either denying the White House’s arguments or issuing apologies for their error.  A vanishing story, however, has been a first.  And now the truth has come out.  The White House told the news agencies that it’s not fair to report on the kids:

The White House has admitted to telling news agencies to pull stories on Malia Obama visiting the Mexico for spring break, Politico reports.

Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, emailed Dylan Byers:

From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.

How thoughtful of our guardians in the press.  How nice to know that the media would be so protective of a president's young daughters.  And all you have to do is ask.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 03:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Romney in Illinois

Romney is expected to win convincingly in Illinois today.

Carrie Rogers of Lake Bluff, said she had been a “big Newt supporter.”

“Listening to Romney speak tonight, he answered a lot of my questions,” she remarked. Did she plan to vote for him then? “Absolutely.”

He's becoming a better candidate.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 06:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 19, 2012

Freedom and Reality

A USA Today column by Alex Berezow explores some similarities between libertarianism and science.  He can make that case because, for one thing, he holds a Ph.D. in microbiology.  

Let me explain. When I was in graduate school, my research mentor and I were discussing data we had generated and how they might contradict the scientific narrative we were developing. He wisely instructed me that I'd never get in trouble telling the truth. His point was obvious: Let the data speak for itself. Massaging data to make them fit the story we would like to tell is not honest, nor is it good science.

That is good advice, not just for science but also for politics. Yet few politicians follow it. Distorting data to fit political narratives has become the norm. Indeed, the struggle between Team Red and Team Blue has become little more than a giant cherry-picking contest designed to score political points rather than promoting sound policy rooted in reality.

Heavy dose of reality

Our political system could use a hefty dose of my mentor's admonition. Today, libertarianism is the best vehicle to deliver the medicine. The scientific enterprise rests on simple premises: Scientists should have the freedom to investigate whatever they choose. The universe is ultimately knowable and logical. The business of science should be to promote reality, not ideology. This formula has proved successful.

By speaking of science and libertarianism, Mr. Berezow accentuates something so characteristic of liberals, or progressives if you prefer.   They don't care much for either freedom or reality.  Just think about the Global Warmists for a moment.  They've done everything in their power to intimidate, harass, belittle, and threaten the livelihood of anybody who would dare to promote a climate theory that disagrees with the "consensus".  So much for freedom. 

And as for reality, the Warmists themselves lamented the absence of warming in the last fifteen years, and their reaction to it was a decision to "hide the decline." 

This is all because the goal of progressivism is to concentrate power in the hands of progressives.  There's no other aim.  Global warming, income inequality, health care reform, pick an issue.  Each one is crafted in such a way that the apparent or preferred solution involves handing over more authority and power to government.  It doesn't matter that climate science is far from settled. It doesn't matter that income equality is impossible to achieve.  It doesn't matter that government run health care worsens the state of health care.  None of that matters.  Only the solution matters.  More government and more progressives in government.  It's the progressive solution for everything.

Freedom and reality are the enemies of progressives, but they are at the core of libertarianism.

College students, traditionally liberal, are among Paul's biggest fans. The 76-year-old Texas congressman himself is a devout Baptist and medical doctor. Agnostic science writer Michael Shermer and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson are both libertarians. What these disparate individuals have in common is a rejection of traditional ideology in favor of freedom and reality.

Thus, the resurgence in libertarian ideology is not only understandable but also desirable. Its support derives from something neither political party possesses: a youthful, widening and intellectually diverse support base.

To be sure, libertarianism doesn't have all the right answers and Paul isn't going to be the Republican nominee for president.

Like science, libertarianism is a search for answers.  On the other hand, for about a century now the progressive movement has consistently maintained that it has all the answers. All we have to do is let them run things.  Everything.  No thanks.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 09:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 09, 2012

February Jobs Numbers - Updated

Just ahead of today's February Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Spencer Jakab of the Wall Street Journal suggested that we might curb our enthusiasm.

Consensus expectations are for growth of 210,000 in nonfarm payrolls, though those may well be too conservative. FTN Financial says the interest-rate yield curve suggests markets expect slightly more. Wednesday's private-sector jobs report from payroll firm Automatic Data Processing also implies better gains.

But the official jobs figure, by its nature, invites skepticism, even from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

This morning, here come the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- FEBRUARY 2012

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February, and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.3 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment rose in professional and businesses services, health care and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, and mining.

Though the employment picture was not as good as was reported in January, it beat expectations by 17,000 nonfarm payroll employees.  And in even better news, the BLS adjusted their December and January numbers upwards.

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for December was revised from +203,000 to +223,000, and the change for January was revised from +243,000 to +284,000.

But seasonal adjustments sometimes make for an overly optimistic employment trend. Says Mr. Jakab, "investors are right to worry that jobs data may be more show than reality."

The quickly improving trend resembles that often seen in the early part of a recovery. January's unemployment rate of 8.3% was 0.6 percentage point lower than in October. Some optimistic forecasters see it falling below 8% before the year is out.

But economist Madeline Schnapp of TrimTabs Investment Research estimates that only 149,000 jobs actually were added last month, based on real-time income-tax-withholding data. She also estimates there were only 181,000 jobs added in January versus the government's reported 243,000, itself a positive surprise.

If such skeptics are indeed right, there is a good chance the economy hasn't quite reached "escape velocity" from the downturn's clutches.

According to BLS numbers unemployment remained unchanged from January at 8.3 percent, a misleading number since it doesn't reflect the number of people who have either temporarily or permanently given up looking for work.  The numbers that Gallup reported on Wednesday paint a much bleaker picture.

The 0.5-percentage-point increase in February compared with January is the largest such month-to-month change Gallup has recorded in its not-seasonally adjusted measure since December 2010, when the rate rose 0.8 points to 9.6% from 8.8% in November. A year ago, Gallup recorded a February increase of 0.4 percentage points, to 10.3% from 9.9% in January 2011.

In addition to the 9.1% of U.S. workers who are unemployed, 10.0% are working part time but want full-time work. This percentage is similar to the 10.1% in January, but is higher than the 9.6% of February 2011.

There is a recovery going on, but it's difficult to say how strong.  Economic growth eventually has to happen in spite of our president.  Who can say what it might have been without Barack Obama holding the federal thumb so firmly down on domestic oil and gas production.

On federal lands, oil production declined 11 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the pro-drilling Institute for Energy Research. On state and private lands, production increased 14 percent. Natural-gas production on federal lands dropped 27 percent from 2009, and increased 28 percent on state and private lands. The president took credit for a trend with which he had nothing to do and which he has tried to obstruct.

Leases for onshore exploration under the Obama administration are down roughly 35 percent from the Bush administration and 70 percent from the Clinton administration.

In the meantime the administration squanders billions on green subsidies and bankrupt solar companies.  No doubt the administration will celebrate the improving employment picture.  But think of what it might be without Barack Obama actively suppressing job creation in the domestic oil and gas industries while spending hundreds of millions in tax dollars on solar companies that are laying people off.

Update:  James Pethokoukis provides some more perspective on the unemployment numbers.  Emphasis in the original.

Even if it were a legit number, the 8.3% February unemployment rate, released today by the Labor Department, would be simply terrible – and unacceptable. It would still extend the longest streak of 8%-plus unemployment since the Great Depression. The U.S. economy hasn’t been below 8% unemployment since Obama took office in January 2009. And back in May 2007, unemployment was just 4.4%.

But, unfortunately, the true measure of U.S. unemployment is much, much worse.

1. If the size of the U.S. labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when Barack Obama took office—65.7% then vs. 63.9% today—the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.8%.

2. But what if you take into the account the aging of the Baby Boomers, which means the labor force participation (LFP) rate should be trending lower. Indeed, it has been doing just that since 2000. Before the Great Recession, the Congressional Budget Office predicted what the LFP would be in 2012, assuming such demographic changes. Using that number, the real unemployment rate would be 10.4%.

3. Of course, the LFP rate usually falls during recessions. Yet even if you discount for that and the aging issue, the real unemployment rate would be 9.5%.

4. Then there’s the broader, U-6 measure of unemployment which includes the discouraged plus part-timers who wish they had full time work. That unemployment rate, perhaps the truest measure of the labor market’s health, is still a sky-high 14.9%.

Posted by Tom Bowler at 10:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack