Ravaging an Economy

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In two years of complete control, Democrats gave America a despised health-care plan and an un-stimulating stimulus package instead of jobs.

Tonight Barack Obama will attempt to deliver his latest “pivot” towards job creation. Many critics, both left and right, contend the attempt will be “too little, too late.” Whatever ideas the president proposes, it is likely they will be presented with a caveat that is becoming tiresomely familiar: “obstructionist” Republicans who put “party before country” will be responsible for any subsequent lack of improvement in the economy. Yet from 2008-2010, Democrats had unassailable control of Washington, D.C. The result? A two-year opportunity to put America on sound economic footing was squandered on a health-care crusade and a one-shot Keynesian cure-all that has left the country on the brink of a double-dip recession.

First, the health-care bill. It is more than ironic that a president now calling for bipartisanship saw nothing wrong with signing a health-care bill into law on March 23, 2010, after it was passed without a single Republican vote, or the support of the American public. Even now, the latest Rasmussen poll shows voters favor repealing the health-care bill over keeping it by a whopping 21 percentage points, 57-36 percent. And 54 percent believe repeal is at least somewhat likely, the highest level for that sentiment recorded so far.

The public’s instincts are on target. According to the Bureau of Labor, America averaged an increase of 67,600 private sector jobs per month between January 2009 and April 2010, seven days after the health-care bill became law. Coming out of a deep recession, such a level of job creation, if not good, was at least respectable. From April 2010 to June 2011, however, job creation went into free-fall: an average of 6,500 jobs per month were created.

The fault of the health-care bill? Consider that Section 1513 of the bill requires every employer with more than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance coverage to those employees by 2014, or pay a $2000 fine. Furthermore, if a company does offer insurance, but the employee turns it down because it is “unaffordable” (more than 9.5 percent of the employee’s household income), the fine goes to $3000 for each employee who buys insurance on government-run health exchanges. Exchanges in which more than 80 percent of the cost could be borne by taxpayers. Couple that with Section 1302, which grants the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the power to “define essential health benefits” that determine the actuarial values of various levels of coverage, and, in turn, will ultimately determine premium prices, and what do you get?

A potential double-whammy for employers. The former section disincentivizes expanding one’s business past 50 employees due to the significant increase in health-care costs. The latter section makes it impossible to determine exactly what those increased costs will be, until they are determined by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Admittedly, neither of these onerous provisions provide direct causation with respect to a flat-lining jobs market. But when 33 percent of small businesses cite the 2010 health-care bill as either their “greatest or second greatest obstacle” with regard to hiring, and 79 percent prefer that Washington D.C. “get out of the way,” as opposed to “offer a helping hand,” it takes a certain level of willful denial not to make some connection. At the very least, they are contributing factors to another daunting survey of 1,100 respondents that reveals that 69 percent of small business owners have no plans to hire additional workers.

Adding irony to insult, it was revealed on Tuesday that since Barack Obama became president, the percentage of Americans who lack health-care insurance has increased – and continued to increase even after the health-care bill was passed. That revelation followed last Sunday’s “Chris Matthews Show,” during which Huffington Post political editor Howard Fineman and Washington Post editor David Ignatius (neither of whom can be identified as a conservative) both agreed that the president’s “biggest political mistake” was the enactment of the health-care bill.

Perhaps it was. But the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a $787 billion stimulus package whose costs soared to $862 billion less than a year later, runs a close second. At the time of its passage, Christina Romer, chairwoman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, the vice president’s top economic adviser, projected that the plan would create 3 to 4 million jobs and that unemployment would peak at just under 8 percent in 2009.

The projections were pipe dreams. Unemployment rose to 10.1 percent in October 2009 and remains at 9.1 percent currently. And that’s the official rate. The U-6 unemployment level, a Bureau of Labor statistic that measures the “[t]otal unemployed, plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force, plus total employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all persons marginally attached to the labor force” stands at a sobering 16.4 percent. Both Romer and Bernstein have since resigned from the administration.

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  • Jim_C

    Mr. Ahlert puts scare quotes around the notion that Republicans "put party before country."

    What was Congressional Republicans STATED main goal after Obama was elected during the worst economic downturn in 70 years? Job creation? Keeping health care affordable? Nope. "Getting Obama out of office." How would they do that? By letting him pass his agenda? By proposing better alternatives? No–by obstructionism: no need for scare quotes.

    How about the debt ceiling nonsense? Raised 87 times since 1945 and NARY A PEEP: but now, all of a sudden, YOUR PARTY has to hold our economy hostage.

    That pretty much says it all, Mr. Ahlert. No need for scare quotes; it's your STATED agenda.

    • fiddler

      Once a socialist; always a socialist. There was Joe the plumber "spread the wealth around". Which law gives any president the right to do that? There was Jeremiah Wright cursing the nation. There were apologies to other countries. Sorry, despite the disease that virually all elected officials get, people know that some may think capitalism is, socialism is far worse. It is because it grows nothing. All it knows how to do is demonize those who have more than someone else and seek to artificially "level the playing field". Union dues for instance is just another tax. It is one of several mechanizations created to STEAL money from people under the guise of compassion. It is convincing people that THEY know best, and for those who disagree with them, they say, "shut up and pay your taxes" because that's the LAW. Socialists are thieves, masquerading as altruistic. We are tired of the lie, and are much wiser.

      • Jim_C

        Well, I don't know who "we" are and I question your "wisdom." Accepted wisdom, or common sense, appears in consensus for a so-called "mixed economy" where the highs and lows are controlled, so we don't go through ten years of job loss. Ten years of job loss is what happens when your crowd gets its way. How many times do we need to go through it to see it? You've had your deregulation , tax cuts, all the goodies: where's the jobs? Profits are up: where's the jobs? The income gap is becoming huge: when are those "job creators" gonna start creating? Insurance costs are hampering business, but God forbid something is proposed to take insurance costs off business's back: oh no, "socialism!"

        Who cares what you call it; I'm tired of bonehead, reflexive anti-government rhetoric by people who claim to love this country and revere its Constitution. Your lips move, but your actions show otherwise.

  • pagegl

    For two years Obama and the Democrats had a super majority in both houses of Congress. They could pass any bill they wanted (and in the case of Obamacare, they did). So, how were the Republicans obstructionistic? The Democrats had two years to get the economy moving in the right direction at the least and failed to do so.

    • fiddler

      That's just too hard for them to grasp. Don't try to confuse them with facts. They are all as children with a million escuses up their sleeve for their actions, and just a many grievances to levy to adults. All they need is a sympathetic media to selectively report what the public "needs" to know.

    • Jim_C

      Wow, they had two whole years (before obstructionism) to make up for the worst economy since the Depression, thanks to Republican policies? Yeah, they really dropped the ball.

      • pagegl

        Yeah, and the obstructionism came every time the Repubs suggested a solution. They encountered the Dems version of bipartisanship… do it our way or we'll piss and moan about obstructionism.

  • http://msmignoresit.blogspot.com Mark

    If we opened up our own resources for oil domestically hundreds of thousands of people would be put back to work … even union workers would be able to get jobs and work! http://msmignoresit.blogspot.com/2011/09/jobs-job

  • LindaRivera

    The Health-Care Bill? It should be given its proper name:

    The HATE AMERICANS Bill.

    • Jim_C

      So you are against children being covered? And you are for people being turned down for insurance due to pre-existing conditions? You are FOR keeping things status quo?

      Gee, I wonder who really hates her fellow citizens?

      • LindaRivera

        Americans are famous for being a generous, giving people. I believe very strongly in all communities having medical centers in buildings with the rooms donated by companies where doctors, dentists, nurses, receptionists and other workers would volunteer to donate so many hours a month/year to provide free health and dental services to those in need. Meds and equipment provided by donors. We must always take care of our fellow human beings!

      • LindaRivera

        When I lived in California, I worked in a school that had a huge number of children whose parents were illegals. I went out of my way to print up the names, addresses and phone numbers of medical centers which I knew provided excellent care and were EXTREMELY CHEAP, and gave these papers to the parents. This was NOT part of my job, but I wanted to make sure the kids (and their family members) got excellent medical care at an extremely low cost

        • Jim_C

          I don't think counting on volunteerism is going to help fix the cost of health care.

      • pagegl

        Ah, pre-existing conditions,,, Maybe the feds should require insurance companies to sell property policies to home owners as their house is burning down. If individuals can get insurance for a pre-existing condition why should they buy insurance before they have cancer or a heart attack?

      • john

        Are you willing to pay at least 75% of your income on federal and state taxes and cover everyone? Funny how people try to use the compassion to make other people pay but never ask if they are willing to personally shill over money. Not trying to sound cold hearted but when does one limit spending money that governments do not have for every hard luck case? With the fraud being committed on just MEDICARE alone, what is to prevent this health care plan into another boondoggle?

  • LindaRivera

    The Health Care Bill will FORCE Americans to spend money on health care that they desperately need to spend on food. And as Americans will not have the money to buy the nutritious food their bodies require, the health of Americans will decline even further. The cost of food is rising dramatically and will continue to increase far more.

    All of this means nothing to wealthy Obama and his wealthy friends including his friend, billionaire, George Soros.

    The Health Care Bill is another method to PUNISH Americans who are deeply despised and hated by the Administration.

    • Jim_C

      You are ascribing sinister motivations to policies designed to help every day people while, unfortunately, trying too hard not to step on insurance companies' toes.

      Tell me: no one with a a brain disagrees health care needed big time reform. It has literally been an issue kicked down the road by every president since at least Nixon. When Clinton tried to do something about it, he was ridiculed. Then, nothing. NADA. Once again, Obama tries: more ridicule.

      You say "they" despise Americans, but you don't fool me.

  • 080

    The government does a lot of good things. The main question is where does it get the money. Tfhe answer is that it gets the money from the private sector or abroad That's it. When it takes money from the private sector it weakens that sector. Yes, it can create jobs in the public sector at the price of killing jobs in the private sector.

    • Jim_C

      What it should have done more of, is spent that money buying goods and services from the private sector, specifically from businesses that would have to meet demand by hiring American workers.

  • Fred Dawes

    just would love to know how long before the old must be by laws removed to a camp system for evacuation ( the nazi unsed the word, it means kill jews in camps)

  • http://DebRollin@yahoo.com Asher

    The speech was disappointing, it was all about more spending, and creating jobs for the unions, raising taxes, and more unemployment benefits, with no incentive for people to find jobs. Obama will never stop being a Socialist. Bill Clinton came to the center for the Good of the Country, but him and Obama are 180 degrees apart.

  • http://www.wastewatchersinc.org Richard Ahern

    People must look out6side of the Box. What did we do with the Constitutional Republic that our forefahers gave us? Read the Constitution

    However, let see where Americans are taking the Constituion today. Our Forefathers purposely ommitted two words in our Constitution: Democracy and socialism. They gave us firm warnings and explicit explanations in the eighty-five Federalist papers- writing by John Jay, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, What was it that these men warned us against? We the People must get us out of this problem , governmen it has too much to loose. Read your Constitution. http://www.wastewatchersinc.org

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    It's so difficult to be a president and be responsible for the welfare of an entire population. I don't envy Obama or anyone with that much responsibility. I prefer to focus on little things like seeing that jelqing works for instance. I read somewhere that change begins on the individual level and I think that's true. Obviously it's still crucial to have people looking after things on a higher level.

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