Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) demonstrated the depth of his condition of out of touchness in a Tuesday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Although Sanders’ out of touchness is amply demonstrated by his full-throated defense of the dinosaur that is the United States Postal Service, I want to look at a couple of other things he said in his piece.
First, there’s this:
There are very powerful and wealthy special interests who want to privatize or dismember virtually every function that government now performs, whether it is Social Security, Medicare, public education or the Postal Service. They see an opportunity for Wall Street and corporate America to make billions in profits out of these services….
The Congressional Budget Office had some remarks last Thursday.
More than four and a half years after the end of the recession, employment has risen sluggishly—much more slowly than it grew, on average, during the four previous recoveries that lasted more than one year. At the same time, the unemployment rate has fallen only partway back to its prerecession level…and a significant part of that improvement is attributable to a decline in labor force participation that has occurred as an unusually large number of people have stopped looking for work…. Moreover, the rate of long-term unemployment—the percentage of the labor force that has been out of work for more than 26 consecutive weeks—remains extraordinarily high.
Included in President Barack Obama’s latest budget proposal was a 1% raise for Federal employees. Of course, in this time of profligate spending and exploding debt, that’s not enough for public service unions.
David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, said Monday that the 1% increase is “pitiful” and fails to compensate for sacrifice by government workers.
“Federal employees have endured years of pay freezes and cuts in retirement benefits,” Cox said in a statement. ”Federal employees deserve a meaningful pay raise, not a token increase that will be more than eaten up by rising living costs, including higher retirement and healthcare costs.”
Governors…have a blunt message for Congress and the White House: They’re moving ahead on job-creation, infrastructure and other matters in the face of federal inaction.
Democratic and Republican governors gathering for National Governors Association meetings say they’ve been forced to fill a vacuum created by the partisan battles in Washington that have blocked agreement on a long-term fiscal plan.
“We’re not waiting. It would really be great for them to solve the mess here, but in the meantime we’re going to do what we can,” said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican.
The CBO, the other day, looked into the Democrats’ proposal—demand, really—to raise the Federal minimum wage to $10.10 from the present level of $7.25 per hour.
The CBO found two key outcomes from such a hike. The first is that the increase is almost certain to cost jobs, to increase unemployment. While acknowledging that the headline number of jobs lost—500,000—is only an estimate, the CBO said quite clearly that the range of the number of jobs that will be lost from this forced wage increase runs from a “very slight decrease” in jobs to 1 million jobs lost. Notice that. No increase at all in job availability will ensue. A “very slight decrease” in jobs is a decrease in jobs. Full stop.
James Pethokoukis at AEIdeasdid the visit, and this graph is the highlight of it.
The red dots on the right axis reveal the Obama tale. It’s an especially humorous, if simultaneously mendacious, one, given that in this auspicious quarter we were supposed to be in the same prosperous state with or without Obama’s promised stimulus benefit. The benefit, after all, only was supposed to ameliorate the pain of the last five years.
Instead, those red dots demonstrate, not just the failure of Obama’s stimulus, but the active damage that “stimulus,” in concert with the rest of Obama’s economic and jobs policies, have done and still are doing to our economy.
The recent CBO report on the mid- and long-term effect on willingness to be employed of Obamacare hinted at the moral hazard of Obamacare and of welfare, generally [emphasis added].
In 2014, for example, a single person or a family whose income is 150 percent of the FPL [Federal Poverty Level] and is eligible for subsidies will pay 4 percent of their income for a certain “silver” health care plan purchased through an exchange; if their income is 200 percent of the FPL, they will pay 6.3 percent of their income for that plan. An increase in income thus raises the enrollee premium (and reduces the subsidy) both because the percentage-of-income formula applies to a larger dollar amount and because that percentage itself increases. People whose income exceeds 400 percent of the FPL are ineligible for premium subsidies, and for some people those subsidies will drop abruptly to zero when income crosses that threshold.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R, AL) had some thoughts on this, which he passed on to the House Republicans as they left for their annual retreat.
As they consider the subject of immigration in their retreat, I expect the Republicans to focus on three things: border and interior security, legalization for some of the existing 11 million aliens, and ensuring that President Barack Obama enforces immigration law. Within that, Republicans will consider ways to deal with the children of illegal aliens, visas for guest workers, and a legalization process that would require illegal aliens to pay fines and back taxes.
It turns out that most members of Congress do not pay their interns a dime for their efforts. There’s some validity to this; those interns get a potful of practical political experience and some resume material.
What makes this interesting, though, is that nearly every one of the Congressional Democrats who demand a minimum wage be paid—and who demand the current minimum wage be raised to $10/hr or more—are included in those who don’t pay their interns anything.
Employment Policies Institute found that 96% of House and Senate sponsors of the minimum wage bill do not pay their interns. That includes lead bill sponsors, like Senator Tom Harkin (D, IA), according to the study.