Tag Archives: US economy

Media trying to torpedo economy? Of course!

Donald Trump’s ridiculous thrashing and trashing of the media provides so much grist and so much fodder for comics.

Now comes this from the president: The media are trying to torpedo the economy because it is too strong, too vibrant and provides too much fuel to power the president’s re-election bid in 2020.

This man is out of his mind. He’s nuts. He went around the bend long ago, but still … his goofiness reveals a serious delusional tendency.

Trump wrote this on Twitter: “The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election. The problem is that the economy is way too strong and we will be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!” 

The president should know better. But he doesn’t.

POTUS shifts blame

The economy is likely to suffer because of the tariffs he keeps imposing on U.S. importers who purchase goods from China. The tariffs create a de facto tax on those products, inflating their cost, making them less affordable to U.S. consumers.

What role do the media play? Oh, let’s see. They’re reporting on it. That is what the media do! They report on policies enacted by the government, be it from the president, or from Congress. The president is seeking to attach steep tariffs on China, ostensibly to publish that government for what Trump says it has done to steal U.S. intellectual property and other transgressions.

Except that China doesn’t suffer the burden on the tariffs. U.S. consumers take it in their, um, wherever.

So, with Trump seeking to shift blame to the media reveals yet again this man’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for anything.

He is projecting his own inadequacies on the media organizations that report on them.

Obama vs. Trump: Why not debate, gentlemen?

I watched Donald Trump’s interview this morning with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd and came away with a couple of observations I want to make here.

One is that I was glad to see the president sit down and be grilled hard by a member of a media organization he has demonized as a purveyor of “fake news.” Trump was mostly civil to Todd, who pushed the president hard on several key points. I was waiting for an explosion; it didn’t detonate.

Second, I was struck by the president’s continuing obsession with the record left behind by his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama. Trump kept insisting that the economy he inherited was on the brink of collapse, that the economy now is the “best” in U.S. history and, of course, he takes all the credit for an economic expansion he said was made possible only by his election to the presidency.

I tossed around in my head a notion I want to reveal here: Why not ask these two men to discuss that economic miracle together, in a debate, if you want to call it that?

I know it won’t happen. Presidents don’t debate their predecessors. Under what used to be normal circumstances, the current president takes office and assumes command, looking forward at all times, rarely looking backward, always thinking about what he intend to do to move the nation to the next step, past the next hurdle or barrier.

Not so with Trump. He is fixated on President Obama’s legacy, which to my way of thinking is a whole lot better than the one Trump characterizes.

So why not sit down across a table and talk to each other about how they view the economy — and perhaps a few other issues as well? Health care seems like a topic for discussion, along with, oh, relations with our allies, our ongoing war against terror and the nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran. Hey, maybe Trump can be forced to defend the ridiculous assertion that the special forces who killed Osama bin Laden should have acted sooner than they did; I would pay money to hear him mount that defense.

Trump is obsessed with comparing the presidency to the office that Obama left. He dare not compare himself to Obama the man, if you know what I am saying.

Barack Obama inherited an economy in free fall. It had actually collapsed by the time he took office. He along with Congress enacted some emergency measures that he hoped would stop the downward spiral. They worked. The economy then entered a job growth streak that hasn’t let up. Yet it is Donald Trump who takes the credit for the expansion that’s still under way.

If only we could actually hear these men explain to us their version of history. One of them, Obama, would do so in a measured, nuanced and elegant manner. The other, Trump, would resort to his version of the English language.

I wish it would happen. All I am left to do is sigh.

A+, Mr. President? I don’t think so

Mr. President, you are entitled to your opinion. As am I, sir.

You give yourself an A+ grade for the first two years of your presidency. I wouldn’t grade your performance anywhere near that high.

I laughed when I heard about Chris Wallace’s question to you, mentioning Presidents Washington and Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan. I also laughed when he asked if you belonged in those men’s company.

Then you gave yourself that A+ grade.

You’re killin’ me, Mr. President.

You keep taking credit for the economy. I applaud the job figures that keep coming in each month while you’ve been in office. Yep, they’re great. But you ought to know — and I wish you did realize it — that presidents can’t take all the credit they think they deserve. I must remind you — yet again! — that you inherited an economy that was in good shape, unlike the economy that your predecessor inherited when he took office in January 2009.

There have been more than the normal number of hiccups along the way. Your key staff keeps turning over regularly. Not to mention the Cabinet posts that keep opening up. You fire folks. They quit under criticism. And yet you keep yammering about the hordes of individuals who are just chomping at the bit waiting to come to work in the White House.

Whatever you say, Mr. President. I just don’t believe it. Nor do others of my ilk, who outnumber those of your ilk by a good bit.

Keep deluding yourself, Mr. President, into thinking you deserve an A+ plus. Others of us believe differently. I won’t assign a grade. I’ll leave that others.

Just know that it ain’t nearly as good as the one you gave yourself.


Well done on job growth, Mr. President

The final monthly job-growth report card is in on President Obama’s two terms.

* 156,000 non-farm jobs were added to the nation’s payrolls in December.

* Joblessness ticked up to 4.7 percent.

* The president goes out of office while the nation enjoys 75 consecutive months of job growth, the longest such streak since 1939.

Not bad a legacy, Mr. President.

To be sure, the economic recovery hasn’t been as robust as Obama’s team would have wished. Wages haven’t grown as much; many jobs have been lost to automation as well as some companies have decided to take them offshore.

However, I need to say once again — with emphasis! — that the economy is nowhere near the dire straits that Obama’s foes have suggested. The foe in chief, the president-elect, injected a lot of unfounded fear in the hearts and minds of voters with suggestions that the economy was heading straight to hell. Donald J. Trump parlayed that fear into enough votes to be elected president.


We aren’t where we need to be economically. The nation, though, is a heck of a lot closer to that destination than it was when Barack Obama became president of the United States.

Well done, sir.

Still trying to grasp the ‘problem’ with the economy


I must need to crack open a few economics books.

The U.S. Labor Department released its monthly jobs numbers this past Friday and they came in quite well.

The economy added 255,000 non-farm private-sector jobs; the unemployment rate remains at 4.9 percent. The jobs figures helped stimulate the stock market as investors — for a day at least — demonstrated confidence in the economy. The economy has added 14 million jobs since Barack Obama became president.

Is that bad news? Really?

But then we hear the politicians.

The economy stinks, they say. Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump is leading the gloom-doom amen chorus by telling us how “incompetent” the government has been during the past eight years.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, of course, kept up the mantra during his unsuccessful bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. Too much wealth belongs to too few Americans, he said. We have to spread it around, he said; we have to break up those big banks.

I keep hearing how “terrible” the economy is doing. What I hear, though, doesn’t quite match up with what I see.

I live in a section of Amarillo, Texas, that is undergoing a significant business and residential expansion. My wife and I drive north and south all the time along Coulter Street and are amazed at the transformation we’ve witnessed during the two decades we’ve lived here.

We joked just this weekend about how we had moved into our newly built house in late 1996 when it literally was one block from the edge of urban civilization. Everything west of us was pasture land. That’s it! Cattle grazed a block from our front door.

Today? We see nothing but rooftops for as to the horizon.

Businesses are springing up like the crab grass that envelops fescue lawns in this part of the world.

OK, I get that the economic recovery could be stronger. I read the economists’ reports telling us of their concern that the economy could tank at any moment.

None of this, though, matches up with what I’m seeing in this city where we live.

What in the world am I missing?

Critiquing final SOTU for this POTUS


This won’t be a thorough point-by-point critique of President Obama’s final State of the Union speech, but I want to offer a few observations of what I believe to be the high points . . . and a particular low point of his speech.

Generally, I believe he hit the right tone and sent the correct message on a number of points.

Such as:

Our political system needs an overhaul. The president sought to quell the “toxic” atmosphere that lingers over Capitol Hill and along the presidential campaign trail. He acknowledges that a State of the Union during a presidential election year is going to run headlong into partisan divisions. But it need not result in turning adversaries into enemies, he said.

This toxicity isn’t new. It’s shown itself at times during the entire existence of the Republic. Its victims have been politicians of both political parties — and more than that if you want to count the Whigs, which morphed into today’s Republican Party.

But just because we’ve had this kind of loathing of individuals with whom we differ for as long as any of us can remember doesn’t negate the need to change it.

The anger has spread to those who worship certain religious faiths and who are victimized solely because of their beliefs. Such hatred must cease. It is, as the president said, “not who we are.”

Obama is right, however, to lay the bulk of the responsibility for that change on us out here in Voter Land. The politicians do our bidding. If we demand a change, then they’ll have to heed us.


The economy has turned around. He hit on something most of us knew he would say. The nation’s economic standing is far better now than it was when Barack H. Obama took office.

We’ve cut joblessness in half; reduced the annual budget deficit by 75 percent; our auto industry is setting records; our banks and other financial institutions are healthy again.

Does the president deserve all the credit? No. It did happen on his watch.

We remain the world’s indispensable nation. The presidential candidates have been making hay on the stump about the United States’ lack of “greatness.” They contend we are weak, that we cower in the face of danger.

The president said, though, that the world “doesn’t turn to Moscow or Beijing” when times get dicey. “It turns to us.”

Why is that so, if we’re such a basket case?

We’re continuing to fight the war on terror aggressively. The president told us of how more than 10,000 air strikes have killed Islamic State leaders and fighters, disrupted command and control operations, obliterated ISIL’s oil supplies — and is doing so with the help of 60 nations allied behind our effort to destroy these terror networks.

Yet his foes keep saying we should “do more.” One of them, U.S. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, said the president isn’t doing enough. What, then, does Chairman Thornberry propose? Oh, yeah. Let’s put “boots on the ground,” which is a cleaned-up way to say, “Let’s put even more young American lives in jeopardy.”

No one should be naïve to think this concentrated air campaign against ISIL, al-Qaeda or al-Shabaab is going to go smoothly all the time. Wars never do.

As for the nature of this war . . .

It is a world war, Mr. President. Obama sought to downgrade this conflict into something less than a global conflict. He is mistaken.

It is true that we aren’t engaged on battlefields around the world the way we were from 1941 until 1945. This war, though, is different in every conceivable way. We aren’t fighting nation-states. We are fighting ideologies, whose practitioners live among us and who prey on innocent victims, so-called “soft targets.”

I believe it is a world war, but not in the historical sense of the term.

* **

Barack Obama didn’t likely change many minds last night. His approval ratings might tick up just a bit, but then they’ll settle back down to where they have stood for years. His foes will be sure to keep beating the drums of pessimism and gloom.

Me? I’m as concerned as the next guy about the future. Then again, I’ve lived long enough and seen enough political turmoil — and warfare — to understand that we are truly are an exceptional nation.

Well done, Mr. President.

Recovery bigger than presidency or Congress

Barack Obama gets a lot of blame and takes a lot of credit.

The president deserves some of the blame and much of the credit.

He doesn’t deserve all of what he gets or what he takes.

Politico has published a fascinating analysis of the economic recovery that is under way and wonders whether the president is taking too much credit for it. Its answer is “yes.”


I’ve been generous in my praise of Barack Obama’s handling of the financial meltdown that was occurring when he took office. He was bold and brash when he launched efforts to stimulate the economy with cash and when he persuaded Congress to enact bailout legislation that helped the automobile and banking industries.

Those efforts have paid off. Indeed, the auto industry has paid back the money it got and the Treasury is fatter because of it.

The latest job-creation numbers continue to show improvement in the economy, but as Politico points out, an $18 trillion economic machine — which is what the U.S. Gross Domestic Product is — is too big for a mere president or Congress to control.

As Politico reports: “Republicans say the economy is finally – and only partially – shaking off the impact of Obama policies like the Affordable Care Act, tax hikes and financial reform, all of which they contend slowed down growth. And they point to paltry wage gains once again evident in the December jobs report. Democrats say that’s sour grapes from partisans whose warnings of a disastrous ‘Obama economy’ look increasingly ridiculous.”

Furthermore, writes Politico: “Economists – on the left and right and in the middle – say the facts suggest a vastly more complex middle ground. Obama deserves significant credit for some shrewd and politically difficult moves early on his presidency, economists say, including the stimulus and the automobile and Wall Street bailouts.”

Congressional Republicans are now trying wrestle some of the economic recovery credit away from the president. Some have joked that the GOP has taken control of the full Congress only since Monday, noting that Democrats have run the Senate while the House has been in GOP hands only since 2011.

I’ve also noted that credit for the recovery can be shared, just as blame can be found on both sides for the collapse that occurred in the final years of George W. Bush’s presidency.


The bottom line is that the economy is too huge, too complicated and contains too many traps for a single set of policies to manipulate.


Jobs vs. 'Oops' for ex-Gov. Perry

The task awaiting former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — gosh, it feels nice to write “former” in front of his name — will be to erase a singular moment from his first run for president.

He thinks “jobs” will replace “oops” in voters’ memory if and when he declares his intention to run for president in 2016.

(OK, he’s not yet a “former” governor, but the moment is close enough that I’ll take the liberty of using it here.)


He’ll have to sell the Texas jobs record to voters looking for an economic medicine man among the Republicans who’ll be seeking to replace Barack Obama in the White House.

But that one moment still stands out as the definition of Perry’s first run for president. As Real Clear Politics reported: “It all boils down to the moment when Perry, in the midst of a 2011 presidential debate, was unable to recall the third of three federal agencies he’d promised to shutter, finally muttering ‘oops.’ Asked about it in a recent interview with The Associated Press, Perry said, ‘That’s like going back and asking a football player who dropped a pass to win the Super Bowl: ‘Did that bother you?’ ”

His campaign staff and close friends said the governor didn’t prepare sufficiently for the 2012 nomination campaign. He had a sore back and was medicated heavily to relieve the pain, they say. There was little staff preparation and development, they contend.

It all added up to a political disaster in the making.

It arrived on that debate stage in late 2011.

Can the governor take the credit for all those Texas jobs? Should he take credit? Well, they occurred on his watch.

But by the same token, millions of jobs were added nationally to company payrolls during the Obama administration. Does the president deserve credit for those numbers as well? My trick knee tells me that ex-Gov. Perry won’t give the president a nickel’s worth of credit for what happened nationally, but he’ll scarf up all the credit he can find for the Texas job growth.

It should produce an interesting tale that Rick Perry will be more than glad to spin in his favor.

First, he’ll have to purge our memory of the “oops” moment.


Jobs report due; get ready for unfounded griping

The Labor Department reported today that claims for unemployment benefits fell to a 14-year low.

This comes on the eve of its monthly jobs report, due out Friday.

So, what will happen? Usually, when the jobless claims dip as they did this week, it means a glowing jobs report is sure to follow.


I’m not going to predict any numbers here, because I have no clue what they’ll be. I’m thinking, though, the job growth in the private sector will match the recent trend, which has been very good.

So, how will the Obama administration’s critics react to this latest bit of sparkling economic news?

They’ll say, “Oh well, the Christmas buying season is almost here and retailers are hiring temporary help to assist with the boost in business.” They’ll pooh-pooh the numbers as a seasonal aberration. Big deal. Where’s the beef? The economy is still in dire straits. Didn’t the mid-term elections just prove that Americans are uneasy about the economy and the direction the country is heading?

This goes to show what politics does to reality.

The reality is that the economy has come back. It’s getting even stronger.

I heard an oil-and-gas analyst today suggest that lower fuel prices are going to give consumers more disposable income to spend at shopping malls across the country, suggesting a booming holiday shopping season that commences with Black Friday the day after Thanksgiving.

Oh, but that’s all smoke and mirrors, the critics will say.