Category Archives: economic news

How does POTUS pull this one off?

“Here’s a guy who’s managed to rack up a $2 trillion deficit at a moment of full employment in the country. It is almost impossible to do that.”

Perhaps you have heard of the fellow who made that observation. He is U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, who — by the way — is one of the seemingly hundreds of Democrats running for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

He calls Donald Trump the “most fiscally irresponsible” president in decades. Bennet does raise a fascinating point.

The economy continues to rock along. Joblessness is down to 3.6 percent, the lowest rate in 50 years. The private sector keeps adding jobs at a robust rate, adding 263,000 more of them in April. That’s a solid performance, which the president is fond of touting. He should. The numbers are great!

How does the president manage, though, to preside over a federal budget deficit that is skyrocketing into the trillion-dollar stratosphere? I am not an economist, but I always thought that full employment — which is close to where we stand at the moment — is supposed to generate enough tax revenue to keep the government flush with money. That ain’t happenin’, man!

Dang! So the president will campaign on The Economy. What about that budget deficit, Mr. President? Doesn’t that matter any longer to any of those who comprise the president’s “base”?

Hah! Who am I kidding? Of course it doesn’t!

Here’s a thought: Share the economic glory

Democrats running for president say that Donald Trump doesn’t deserve credit for the current boom in the nation’s economy.

They drape the credit over the shoulders of Trump’s immediate presidential predecessor, Barack H. Obama. They say President Obama’s policies are responsible for the continuing job growth, the diminishing unemployment rolls, the increase in the Gross Domestic Product, the increase in wages and salaries.

So, there you go.

Oops. Not so fast!

Hey, don’t misunderstand me on this matter. Donald Trump doesn’t deserve nearly all the credit he keeps taking. However, he does deserve credit at least for not botching the progress that was well under way when he took office in January 2017.

I resist granting him all that credit mainly because I want him out of office. I want him defeated in the 2020 election and I do not want him to ride behind the wave created by the good economic news that keeps coming his way.

However, the ongoing good news is occurring on the current president’s watch.

However, I cannot yet fathom why this president cannot give any credit to anyone else for the success he enjoys in the moment. That refusal to offer a positive nod to President Obama’s economic policies perhaps is fueling Democratic politicians’ current anger with the current president.

Hey, we’re heading into an election year. Thus, one man’s economic miracle is another man’s economic disaster. Donald Trump plays that game better than most.

Jobs report looks stellar; now, hands off the Fed, Mr. POTUS

Donald Trump has reason to smile this morning.

The U.S. Labor Department reports that the private sector added 263,000 jobs in April; the unemployment rate fell to a 49-year low of 3.6 percent.

This is the same Labor Department that Trump once disparaged as cooking the books when Barack Obama was president, when the Obama administration was presiding over similarly stellar job increases monthly.

The other guy’s success was a fabrication, said Trump. Not now. It’s all real now that Trump is in the saddle.

Hey, that’s all fine. He was wrong then to criticize the Labor figures when President Obama was in office. He is right now to hail them. It’s good news, Mr. President. Just say how much you appreciate everyone’s hard work and get on with “making America great again.”

One more thing, Mr. President. You should stop monkeying around with trying to seat lackeys and sycophants on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Stop trying to coerce Fed Chairman Jerome Powell into doing your bidding. The Fed is an independent agency charged with helping managing the economy.

The job figures indicate to me that the Fed is doing a damn good job.

Leave the Fed alone, Mr. President!

Second hack bows out of Fed job hunt

Donald Trump sought to seat two partisan hacks on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

One of them, Herman “9-9-9” Cain pulled out. The Godfather’s Pizza mogul faced questions and allegations concerning sexual harassment. Never mind that he had next to zero knowledge of what the Fed actually does. He’s out!

Now we hear that Stephen Moore, another Fed critic, has pulled his name out of consideration. Moore writes occasionally for the Wall Street Journal, appears on Fox News Channel and bashes the Fed whenever someone prompts him to do so.

Moore also has spoken badly about the role of women in the workplace.

Donald Trump finds these individuals in search of individuals who would enable him to politicize the Fed, which historically a decidedly non-partisan organization. It helps set economic policy without regard to any loyalty to the president who appoints the Board of Governors.

The president keeps yapping about how many highly qualified individuals are lining up to work in the federal government while he is on the watch. Herman Cain and Stephen Moore didn’t fit the bill.

Get busy, Mr. President, and present those individuals you keep saying are out there.

Will keep harping about tax returns … until we see ’em

It boils down to a simple proposition.

Donald Trump cannot be trusted to tell us the truth about anything. Nothing. Not a single thing he says is to be believed.

Thus, when he says that he cannot release his taxes for public examination because the Internal Revenue Service is “auditing” his returns, I do not believe him.

The president of the United States is a pathological liar. He cannot tell us the truth about any issue, at any level.

I had hoped special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into The Russia Thing might reveal the president’s tax returns. It looks as though it won’t. I continue to hope that Congress’s demands that the IRS release will enable them will force the agency’s hand.

Trump keeps telling us there’s nothing to hide. Yet he does hide them from us. He snubs political tradition dating back more than four decades. Every presidential candidate since 1976 has revealed his or her income. Trump refuses.

He is not to be believed. I suspect the audit is a ruse. This individual is deliberately keeping something from the public’s scrutiny.

Why is this important? Let’s set aside the noise about potential Russian influence on Trump’s business dealings.

Presidents are involved in helping establish tax policy for all Americans to follow. Congress enacts the laws, to be sure. Presidents, though, make them law with his signature. Therefore, Americans have every right to know whether the president of the United States is paying his fair share of taxes and doing what he and Congress demand of the rest of us.

That is notwithstanding all the other issues that continue to swirl around the president.

So when this individual tells us he has “no business dealings with Russia,” and that the IRS is “conducting a routine audit,” and that he is worth gazillions of dollars that he earned the hard way, he expects you and me to believe him.

I do not believe a single word that flies out of this guy’s mouth.

Thus, the president needs to produce the goods.

I will keep harping on it until he does.

What’s Trump trying to do with the Fed?

I cannot begin to comment in any detail about federal economic policy. But I do wonder about a couple of nominations planned for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Donald Trump appears to be angry with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell. So what’s he going to do? He has nominated Stephen Moore, a non-economist and a vocal Powell critic, as a Fed governor. What’s more, Trump is slated to nominate Godfather’s pizza mogul and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to another governor’s post; oh, yeah, Cain also is a Powell critic. Cain also has the specter of sexual harassment allegations hanging over him.

I long have thought the Fed was beyond partisanship. It is supposed to regulate economic activity. It sets interest rates. It can reduce them when the economy is struggling; it can increase them when the economy prospers.

Trump, who selected Powell to replace Janet Yellen as Fed chairman, has been openly critical of the rate increases that have occurred on Powell’s watch.

Now he wants to put a couple of fellow Powell critics on the board?

Is that how the Fed is supposed to operate? I don’t believe the Fed should be politicized in this fashion.

Just wondering: Who’s running the OMB?

I cannot stop thinking about the fellow who is serving as acting chief of staff at the White House.

Mick Mulvaney waltzed into the West Wing to take over as chief of staff after John Kelly was either (a) fired, (b) asked to quit or (c) resigned in a huff because he couldn’t control anything.

Donald Trump said Mulvaney would become “acting” chief of staff, which is strange on its face. Normally presidents wouldn’t have any difficulty finding a permanent COS. Mulvaney, though, already has a full-time job as director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The OMB gig is a huge undertaking as it is.

Now he is running the White House per the president’s instruction.

Who, though, is running the OMB? Who is putting a pencil to the staggering deficit that is growing ominously, even though the president promised to bring the budget into balance — albeit over a serious length of time.

Does this mean, therefore, that we no longer have a permanent WH chief of staff and a director of the Office and Management and Budget? I keep wondering about who is minding the OMB store while the boss is at the White House trying to make sense of the chaos inside the West Wing.

Watching the rebirth of a city’s downtown

I don’t get back to Amarillo, Texas, as often these days. My wife and I are getting set to plant new roots in a home in Collin County.

We aren’t going to cease returning to the city we called “home” for more than decades. I am getting anxious to witness the rebirth of its downtown district.

You know already that I am a big supporter of the changes that are under way in the Texas Panhandle community. I am heartened by the expected completion of Hodgetown, the baseball park that will be the home field for the AA minor-league Amarillo Sod Poodles baseball squad; the Sod Poodles open their home season on April 8. As an aside, my wife and I will be in Amarillo that day, getting ready to shove off in our fifth wheel for a trip downstate and then to New Orleans; hmm, I might look for a way to attend that opening-night game.

I simply am amazed that the city has embarked on this urban revival journey. When we arrived in Amarillo in early 1995 we saw little evidence of a municipal appetite for the pro-active approach we have witnessed unfold there. City Hall operated on a policy of letting private business fuel any significant change. The city took a hands-off approach; it didn’t want to invest public money on what it considered to be a private venture.

That has changed to a large degree at City Hall. Two mayors, Debra McCartt and Paul Harpole moved the City Council forward in pushing for development of the ballpark. It promoted what it called “catalyst projects” that would bloom in the wake of the ballpark’s completion. Those projects appear to be bearing fruit.

The city welcomed the opening of a first-class hotel; it is pledging to make major improvements to the Civic Center; Polk Street — once known as Amarillo’s “main drag” — is coming back to life; renovated buildings on Polk are welcoming something called “pop up” businesses; the Barfield Building is in the process of being repurposed into a Marriott “boutique hotel.”

This all makes my head spin.

And I don’t even live there!

Every return to Amarillo we make these days fills us with surprises. We’ll be back again soon. I await the next jaw-dropper.

What? No outcry over the national debt?

This just in: The U.S. debt has just jumped past the $22 trillion mark, rising more than $2 trillion during the first two years of Donald J. Trump’s administration.

I have to ask: Where is the outcry? Why hasn’t the far right raised holy hell about that? Why are acquiring all this additional debt without anyone raising a stink about it?

Didn’t the 2012 Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney once chide President Obama at a charity dinner that the event was sponsored by “the letter ‘O’ and the number 16 trillion”? He was referring to the size of the debt during the 2012 presidential campaign. The quip drew lots of laughs — and a few groans.

However, the GOP was simply aghast at the national debt back then.

This time? Pfftt! Who cares?

Oh, I almost forgot! Donald Trump has referred to himself as the “King of Debt.” All hail the king!

Socialism is a serious straw man

Donald J. Trump stood before a joint congressional session and received his share of cheers — mostly from Republicans sitting in front of him — during his State of the Union speech.

One applause line deserves a brief comment here. He declared, without an ounce of equivocation, that the United States is never going to become a “socialist nation.”

GOP lawmakers stood and cheered. So did a handful of Democrats.

Why mention this here? Because the president of the United States only revealed his acute command of the obvious.

He was taking a direct shot at one member of the Senate, Vermont independent Bernie Sanders. He also was targeting a handful of House Democrats, too, namely the rookie lawmaker, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has become a media superstar while serving for an entire month in the House of Representatives.

Is the president’s declaration actually intended to stave off some hidden stampede toward socialism? He clearly intends with that statement to stoke some kind of made-up fear that there is enough support in Congress to allow for a government takeover of heavy industry. He is breeding panic among those who believe that the United States of America is going to forgo capitalism in favor of socialism.

Let’s catch our breath. There is no way in the world that the United States of America is going to adopt a socialistic economy.

The issues that some congressional progressives can be resolved without converting our economy from one that produces individual wealth to something that distributes wealth evenly among all 300 million-plus Americans.

“Medicare For All” is no more of a socialistic solution than, say, the original Medicare was when it was enacted in 1965. Or when Social Security became law in 1935. Yet lawmakers and, yes, the president insist that the Affordable Care Act — President Obama’s signature domestic policy initiative — marches the nation down the road toward socialism.

There remains a tremendous amount of individual wealth in this country. I happen to believe firmly that individual wealth will continue to flourish likely until the end of time — whenever that occurs! Socialism, as I understand the meaning of the concept, seeks to redistribute wealth through some nefarious government grab of individual assets.

Does anyone seriously believe that is going to happen? Ever?

If you believe it, then you likely have swilled the Kool-Aid dispensed by demagogues who flourish in a climate of fear.