Tag Archives: Labor Department

The attention span of a ‘fruit fly’?

Robert Reich leans to the left; his critics surely would say “the far left.” He served as secretary of labor in President Clinton’s administration. His progressive chops are well-known.

Still, for this former Cabinet official to say what he has said about Donald Trump is, well, quite stunning. Reich posted this on Facebook:

In all my years advising presidents and working in government, I have never heard of anything like this happening in the White House. During a meeting with Paul Ryan on health care, Trump reportedly became so disinterested that he stared blankly out the window and finally wandered out of the Oval Office to watch television in another room. Mike Pence had to convince (Trump) to return to the Oval Office to finish the meeting.

This man has the attention span of a fruit fly. He has no interest in facts and figures nor does he pretend to care. Even the simplest duties of the office bore him. He is more interested in what’s on Fox News than actually running the government. This is (a) real national emergency, not migrant women and children seeking asylum at the border.

I am not aware of Reich’s sourcing for what he says occurred during that meeting with the former House speaker. It sure sounds like what so many of us have heard already about the president’s lack of attention to anything approaching the details of public policy.

Thus, I have to concur with Secretary Reich’s assertion that the “real national emergency” is present inside the Oval Office, in the West Wing, in the White House.

Donald Trump’s base has elected a menace.

Jobs report: once cooked up, now legit?

Donald John Trump has this maddening capacity for talking out of both sides of his mouth and for avoiding accountability for it.

The U.S. Labor Department’s jobs report this week is an example of it. The bean counters at the Labor Department reported that 223,000 jobs were added to non-farm payrolls in May. Unemployment fell to 3.8 percent.

Good news? Of course it is! The president should take a victory lap on this one. He hailed the report so much that he actually sort of spilled the beans an hour before the data were released, breaking with longstanding presidential protocol. Some critics are concerned that he might have manipulated stock markets around the world by offering that hint of the good news that was about to be revealed.

But wait! He once derided those same bureaucrats’ findings when they delivered stellar jobs report numbers during the Barack Obama administration. He called them phony, cooked up. He said the actual jobless rate during President Obama’s time in office was many times greater than what the Labor Department said it was.

So, which is it? Were they cooked up then and have gained validity just because Trump is in office?

This is the kind of duplicity that Trump gets away with. It simply is astonishing in the extreme that the man’s “base” continues to cheer him on, giving him more incentive to keep lying to the nation.

Weird.

Trump hogs credit he denied to his predecessor

Donald J. Trump was always oh, so quick to denigrate the economic successes of Barack H. Obama.

But … wait! Now it appears that with the nation’s economy continuing to rock along, he is seeking to take some — or most — of the credit for himself.

Politico reports that the president, faced with low poll ratings despite a brisk economic recovery, is staking more of his political fortune on the continuing spike in economic activity.

Thus, the success he refused to acknowledge during President Obama’s two terms in office is now becoming an opportunity for him to seize during his own time in the White House.

It’s almost laughable. No, actually it is laughable.

Trump derided the monthly jobs boost recorded virtually throughout Obama’s terms in office. He used to contend the job growth was phony; the Labor Department cooked up the numbers, he said, to make the president look good.

Now that he’s on the watch, the job numbers are like the Gospels, according to Trump. Which is it, Mr. President? Are they phony or are they holy?

Trump will deserve credit if his economic policies continue to produce healthy job and wage growth. He’ll deserve the credit in due course.

However, he shouldn’t try to scarf up the credit that rightfully belongs to the momentum built by his presidential predecessor and preceding Congresses long before he declared his presidential candidacy.

Great jobs report, but what has POTUS done … exactly?

The U.S. Labor Department chimed in this morning with a stellar jobs report for July.

The nation added 209,000 payroll jobs. The unemployment rate fell from 4.4 percent to 4.3 percent. It’s good news. The economy is on the move, as it has been for some time now.

Donald J. Trump, as expected, took credit for the great jobs report. Yes, the president should be thrilled and happy with them. I welcome the good news as much as he does.

He said he’s “only just begun” to bring back more American jobs.

My question, though, is this: What, precisely, has the president done to generate the stellar jobs numbers?

Legislative accomplishment? None. We haven’t overhauled the tax system. Congress hasn’t acted on the president’s infrastructure revitalization plan. It hasn’t tossed out and replaced the Affordable Care Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rolled back many of regulations enacted in prior administrations, but have those actions produced — by themselves — these big job numbers? Umm. No.

Take credit, Mr. President, if you wish. You are entitled to all the credit you deserve — which is some, but nearly as much as you seem to suggest.

Trump takes premature credit for job growth?

Donald J. Trump will be able eventually to take credit for job growth.

Just not yet.

It’s interesting to me that some of the chatter today regarding the Labor Department jobs report deals with whether the president should deserve any credit for the big spike in employment.

He doesn’t deserve it. Not this early.

The United States added 235,000 non-farm jobs to payrolls in February. Unemployment ticked downward to 4.7 percent. How did Trump’s economic policies contribute to this trend? They didn’t.

You’ll recall that when Barack Obama took office in 2009, job numbers were plummeting. It took a bit of time for the president’s economic stimulus package to take effect. The former president didn’t deserve blame for falling jobs figures at the beginning of his term.

I also should say he didn’t deserve all the credit for the spectacular job growth that ensued. He deserved some of it.

Eight years later, the nation’s job growth has continued. Joblessness has been cut in half. The annual federal budget deficit has been pared by two-thirds.

Obama handed this economic growth off to Trump. The new president eventually will be able to take some of the credit if the job growth continues well into the first year of his presidency and beyond. I am willing to give him the credit he deserves.

This silly discussion, though, about whether he should crow about job growth during his first full month in office succeeds only in one thing: It rivets attention directly onto the president of the United States, which is all part of the way this guy rolls.

Puzder pulls out, thanks to ex-wife’s interview

Andrew Puzder shouldn’t have been nominated as labor secretary in the first place.

He favors automation; he opposes the minimum wage; he is no friend of the working man and woman.

None of that doomed his nomination. Oh, no! The death knell was rung when a decades-old videotape surfaced that shows Puzder’s former wife telling Oprah Winfrey that Puzder abused her. He threatened her, bullied her.

Puzder — a fast-food restaurant mogul — then pulled out.

Vetting, anyone?

I have blogged already about Donald Trump’s lack of vetting as he has looked for Cabinet officers. I thought the worry was overblown.

But here we are. A labor secretary who apparently hadn’t been vetted properly being done in by an old videotaped interview.

It appears that a lot more careful vetting of Puzder’s history could have prevented the president from suffering this embarrassing end to one of his Cabinet selections.

That presumes, of course, that Donald Trump would be embarrassed.

Waiting now for Trump jobs reports

We know this much about Donald J. Trump’s presidency: the wall won’t be built any time soon, if at all; the Muslim registry won’t be enacted right away; all those jobs that have poured out of the country — supposedly — won’t be coming back right away.

However, we’re going to get a good feel for how Trump responds to a certain economic barometer. The U.S. Department of Labor issues its monthly jobs report right around the first Friday of every month.

For the past, oh, seven years or so, the Labor Department jobs figures have been ticking upward; roughly 150,000 each month, give or take.

Democrats have crowed about the figures. Republicans have been, well, more or less silent. If GOP leaders have had anything to say about these jobs figures, it would be to say that wages still stink.

The unemployment rate? Democrats have cheered the rate that now stands at 4.6, which is roughly half of the rate it was when President Obama took office eight years ago. Republicans pooh-pooh the numbers, saying that they reflect a diminishing number of Americans who are looking for work.

The first Friday in February will be just a few days after Trump takes office; nothing much to look for then. The March jobs figures, though, might give us a feel for how the Trumpkins respond to the Labor Department numbers. The feds will announce the jobs report on March 3, telling us how employers fared during February, which will be Trump’s first full month as president.

If they’re good, look for the Trumpkins to shout for joy. If they’re bad, look them to dismiss the numbers. Heck, they might suggest the numbers are “rigged” to make the new administration look bad. Oh, wait! He’s going to have his own labor secretary on the job by then.

Whatever news we get, we’re going to see a dramatic role reversal among partisans on both sides of the great — and growing — political divide.

How about other families, Mr. Speaker-to-be?

family_leave

Paul Ryan wants to be speaker of the House on the condition he be allowed to spend ample quality time with his family.

Agreed, young man. You deserve it. So does your family.

But here’s a snippet of a Facebook post by left-leaning former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich about whether Ryan believes all American families deserve to spend that kind of time together:

“Paul Ryan has made a condition of his taking the House Speakership that he get enough time with his family, including three school-age kids. ‘I cannot and will not give up my family time,’ he says. I commend him for his dedication to work-life balance (years ago I left Bill Clinton’s cabinet because I didn’t have enough time to spend with my then teenage sons). But I wish Ryan felt other Americans deserved the same. Members of Congress have paid sick leave, but Ryan has repeatedly voted against legislation to give federal employees paid parental leave. And he and his fellow Republicans have blocked legislation that would provide all workers with paid maternity leave and paid sick leave. Ryan’s 2014 budget would have cut federal funding for child care subsidies for low-income families.”

Well, congressman? Will you change your tune?

 

No charges against Gang of 47

An interesting petition is being circulated by those who think, as I do, that the 47 Senate Republicans who sent The Letter to the Iranian mullahs asking them to reject a nuclear deal worked out by the president of the United States.

The petition calls for charges to be filed against the senators.

I don’t sign petitions. I didn’t sign this one. Indeed, even if I did sign petitions, I wouldn’t sign this one. Why? The Gang of 47 needs only to suffer political embarrassment for stepping into territory where it didn’t belong. The gang doesn’t need to be brought up on charges.

Here’s how former Labor Secretary Robert Reich discusses it in his Facebook post: “A petition calling for charges to be filed against 47 U.S. Senators who sent an open letter to the leaders of Iran, in alleged violation of the Logan Act (a law that forbids unauthorized citizens to negotiate with foreign governments) has already collected over 165,000 signatures. I can’t imagine the Justice Department actually going after the 47, or the constitutional and political crisis that would ensue if it did. Yet I think it important that our voices be heard on this matter. Allowing a political party to conduct its own foreign policy undermines the authority of the President and poses a threat to the peace and security of all Americans. I urge you to add your name, and send a clear signal that this behavior is unacceptable.”

Reich is correct to assert that it’s important for Americans’ voices to be heard on this matter.

The Gang of 47 has committed a serious political miscalculation. Let them stew in the embarrassment they’ve brought onto themselves.

 

Economy now off the table for 2016 campaign?

Let’s allow this declaration: Barring an unexpected collapse that could occur at any moment, the state of the nation’s economy will not be an issue in the 2016 campaign for president of the United States.

The Labor Department released more job numbers today. They’re good.

The economy added 252,000 jobs in December; unemployment fell from 5.8 percent to 5.6 percent.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/business/economy/jobs-unemployment-figures-december.html?_r=0

Is it a perfect score? No. Wages took a slight dip in December, compared to the substantial growth they showed the previous month.

Republican contenders for the White House, though, are going to have to look beyond our borders for issues to toss against Democrats — namely against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Those opportunities aren’t going to be that easy to exploit against the former secretary of state, former U.S. senator, former first lady and prohibitive frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The economy? Well, I’ve noted before how the Obama administration took bold steps early on to stop the free fall it inherited when Barack Obama took the presidential oath on Jan. 20, 2009.

The economy is picking up considerable steam now.

The war on terror? It’s still going on. Yes, the president said the “war on terror is over.” He misspoke. The nation continues to hunt down killers, who continue to strike at innocent victims, such as those most recently in Paris.

Let’s face this cold, harsh fact: The war on terror is unlike any war we’ve ever fought. There will be no way to declare victory. The 9/11 attacks brought forward what intelligence analysts and deep-cover agents have known all along, that terrorists are out there plotting against us.

That fight will go on, and on, and on.

At home, though, the economy has recovered.