Category Archives: economic news

A boondoggle in the making?

My chronic nosiness sometimes gets the better of me, particularly when I see large public projects seemingly abandoned.

I am referring in this instance to what I have been calling a “boondoggle in the making” around the corner and down the street from my Princeton, Texas, home.

I reached out to someone in authority at City Hall the other day to ask about the status of the “apartment monstrosity” under construction on the south side of US 380 just east of Walmart. The answer I got? “It’s being handled by ‘legal.'”

Hmm. OK. I asked a follow-up question: Does that mean the project is stalled? No answer has been forthcoming.

Now, I spent more than 36 years as a reporter and editor for two reputable newspapers in Texas and one in Oregon. My job was to sniff out problems when I suspected they were occurring. My gut — in addition to my trick knee — are telling me the city has a problem on its hands.

Princeton City Council approved a massive construction project to build a massive complex of “luxury apartments” on US 380. Site preparation was completed and several structures emerged right away. Work crews installed dry wall on several of the structures.

Then, about a year ago, work stopped at the site. A dispute between the developer and the general contractor led to some sort of work stoppage. The then-city manager told me at the time that they were working it out and that work would resume shortly.

Well, “shortly” never arrived, or so I understand. I haven’t seen any sign of human life on the construction site in weeks. The gates are closed and padlocked. The weather has at times been cold and damp, perhaps damaging the unprotected structures.

I am believing in my bones that the city has a problem in the form of an unfinished apartment complex that is looking more each day like a gigantic eyesore.

Cryptic answers about “legal” counsel answering questions gives me reason — I believe — to be deeply concerned about the future of this blight on our rapidly growing community.

Yes, I am better off

Allow me to make this declaration … as if you can stop me from making it.

Here goes: I am better off by a long shot than I was four years ago.

The question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”, is getting some traction of late. Republicans are saying “no!” They want to tar President Biden with a phony economic crisis, suggesting that the recovery from the COVID pandemic is a figment of our imagination.

It isn’t. Our economy is robust. It is — to borrow the phrase — “rocking along” by producing a record number of new jobs, historically low unemployment, a shrinking national budget deficit, an inflation rate that is stabilizing and shrinking, too.

Yes, the nation is better off than it was when Joe Biden took office as president. I won’t listen to the lies put forth by his immediate presidential predecessor.

Are in perfect condition? Of course not! Perfection is an impossibility.

But we’re damn sure better than we were.

Age = experience

So, the talking point now on the 2024 election appears to be that Joe Biden is “too old” to continue as president of the United States.

What … utter … pig … dookie!

President Biden met earlier this week with four congressional leaders of both parties in the White House. Present were Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, House Republican Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer and House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries.

The word coming out of the meeting? The fear of a government shutdown effective on Saturday appears to have waned … significantly! How’s that?

Well, it appears that Biden brought his 36 years of experience as a U.S. senator to bear. Oh, he also had those eight years as VP prior to being elected president in 2020.

The man’s experience in working through these knotty matters is invaluable. He knows the language of the Senate; he’s fluent in it, given that he spoke it for so long.

I am not going to accept any notion that POTUS’s mental acuity is in decline. Yes, he’s got lots of miles piled onto his 81-year-old body. However, he is continuing to demonstrate an ability to work through the gritty details of government.

He knows the complexities of working with such a cumbersome form of government that we have in this constitutional republic of ours. I am now thinking of the probable alternative to a president who has devoted his entire professional life to public service.

I will settle any day of the week for the experience that Joe Biden brings to work every day over the chaos that no doubt will accompany the idiot who wants the job that President Biden continues to do well.

Loathe the man and his standing

My noggin cannot comprehend a lot of things in life, so to be clear I want to stipulate that at times I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Among the more incomprehensible elements of life that puzzles me is the standing that the 45th POTUS continues to have among Americans who think he deserves another term in the White House.

I won’t regurgitate the many negative comments I have made about him since the moment he and his wife rode down the NYC office tower escalator in June 2015 as he announced his first run for the presidency.

I’ll make one exception, though. I want to remind every reader of this blog of this fact, which is beyond dispute: This bozo spent his entire adult professional life — every … waking … minute of it — with one goal in mind: self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement. He did not devote a single moment of his miserable life to public service.

Yet he stood there and proclaimed himself to be the champion of the “little guy,” the individual he personally loathed as a “loser” and a chump. He called himself a populist, even though he likely doesn’t know the definition of the type of pol he proclaimed himself to be.

His goal in life was to make lots of money for himself. It has been revealed now in court proceedings brought against him that he is as Mitt Romney described him: a “phony and a fraud.”

Anyone human being who feels the need to declare out loud the he is “really rich” and “really smart” never achieves such wealth, nor is he smart enough to know that undeniable fact.

Yet here this guy stands. He was impeached twice by the U.S. House. He has been indicted four times by federal and state grand juries on 91 criminal counts. He vows to be “your retribution” if he’s elected later this year.

And they still believe in this guy?

God help us if this all comes to pass.

Economy gets in GOP’s way

Republicans have been hoping for an economic collapse to fuel their mantra that President Biden’s stewardship on our finances would lead them back to the White House.

Except that the news just keeps getting better.

This week the Labor Department announced the economy added 353,000 jobs to the workforce. The unemployment remains at 3.7%. Inflation is under control. Wages and salaries are outdistancing the inflation rate. Mortgage interest rates are sliding down.

What the heck? The GOP presidential frontrunner can’t make the case that Joe Biden’s policies aren’t working. Instead, he’s left to look for other issues with which to bludgeon the president.

Politico reports: And though far from certain, it’s now possible that the nation’s economic health could become an electoral asset for Biden in an unexpected way.

“I think that is the question of the day,” said Stephen Moore, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and an economist with FreedomWorks who is close to the Trump campaign. “You can’t blame the president when policies go wrong, and then say he’s not responsible if things are going right.”

Biden’s economy keeps messing up Trump’s message – POLITICO

Moore touches on a singular political reality, which is that presidents too often take blame they don’t deserve while being denied any credit they might earn. That is true for presidents of either party. So often matters out of their control dictate downward economic spirals.

The inflation rate is an example. Americans who endured the COVID-19 pandemic were denied opportunities to purchase big-ticket items. Then the pandemic broke and Americans released all that pent-up demand, which contributed to skyrocketing inflation at almost every level.

Who took the blame? Joe Biden!

Then the president pitched what he called the Inflation Reduction Act. Congress enacted it. The IRA intent was to target the supply chain, seeking to loosen it sufficiently. It worked. Inflation is under control.

Has the POTUS gained much from the impact of the IRA? Not yet!

The economy is fading as a talking point that Republicans can use against Joe Biden. The president’s campaign team now must devise a message that drives the point home that, yes, we are better off than we were four years ago.

Are we better off these days?

What in the world is it going to take to persuade Americans to shed their gloomy-Gus outlook on the U.S. economy?

You don’t need to answer that one. Just hear me out for a brief moment while I vent a bit of my frustration.

Here we are now officially in an election year. President Joe Biden is seeking another term, but he is facing headwinds that befuddle me. He is unable to persuade Americans that we are better off now than we were when he took office in January 2021.

Joblessness is down; employers are hiring tens of thousands of employees each month; inflation is down; interest rates are beginning to inch downward as well; retirement accounts are healthy; the stock market is setting records.

OK, I am going to set aside commenting on the border crisis and the phony investigations into alleged corruption involving the president.

Joe Biden has plenty of goods to sell Americans as he seeks re-election. He cannot seem to shake loose from Republicans who continue to feed the lie about the state of our economy.

They said we would plunge into recession. That the Dow would plummet. That inflation would gobble up Americans’ hard-earned savings accounts.

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am doing far better economically today than I was doing in 2020.

Should the president re-purpose the query that Ronald Reagan posed during the 1980 campaign against President Carter? He shouldn’t even consider it. I am certain that a similar question can be presented this year that would produce a far different response than the one Reagan used to devastating effect.

The very future of our nation depends on whether President Biden can find a way to vanquish forever the forces that keep lying to us about our nation’s economic health.

Bidenomics: It’s working!

How is this going to play out? For the life of me I cannot fathom the current trend.

President Biden’s economy is rocking along. The nation added 199,000 jobs in November; joblessness is now at 3.5%; inflation registered a 3.1% uptick, which is far better the 9% it was registering earlier this year.

And yet …

Republicans keep yammering about the “sagging” economy. How Americans are unhappy with their lives’ economic trajectory.

President Biden and Congress approved the nation’s largest infrastructure bill in history. He got Congress to approve the Inflation Reduction Act. We’re investing in “green energy,” and the GOP calls that a bad thing.

It’s working, man! Yet the GOP keeps lying to us that it isn’t.

I am shaking my noggin. I do not get it!

Downtown: Priority No. 1

Almighty God did not bestow on me the power to act as King of the World, but I did get a brain that enables me to presume the impossible … and, thus, offer a suggestion on how to conduct the people’s business.

Princeton, Texas, at this moment does not have a city manager. The City Council must look for someone to replace Derek Borg, who this past week resigned his office. He’s out. The council named Leisa Gronemeier as interim manager.

What should the new manager list as his or her top priority? Here goes: He or she should place the development of a “downtown Princeton” at or near the top of the municipal agenda.

I put the terms “downtown Princeton” in quotation marks for a reason. It’s because Princeton does not have a downtown district worthy of the name. The city built a municipal government office complex. Where did it go? Into what passes for a downtown area?

No. It was erected on the eastern edge of the city on the north side of US 380.  I like the complex. It is a fine piece of construction. However, it suggests to me that the city hasn’t bought into the notion that a vibrant downtown district really matters.

It damn sure should!

I get that the city manager doesn’t set policy; that task belongs to the elected council. The manager, though, does have a bully pulpit from which he can lobby council members and the mayor to plot a certain course.

In my humble view, the next city manager has it within his or her power and authority to try to move the council to put downtown redevelopment at the top of the council’s agenda.

Practically every single American city — from its most bustling metros to the smallest of communities — has at least one thing in common as they reap the benefits of economic revival.

That would be a downtown district that bustles with life.

Why won’t GOP govern?

Why in the name of sound fiscal management is Congress — led by Republicans in the House of Representatives — unable to approve a long-term budget deal that avoid the catastrophe that awaits us at the end of this month?

The federal government might be headed for another shutdown if Congress doesn’t approve enough money to keep services running. These are the services that you and I pay for with our tax money, services we expect to receive in return for the government demanding our funds.

Is it me or does it appear that these crises always seem to play out when the GOP controls the congressional purse strings while a Democrat sits in the big chair behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office?

This particular House GOP majority, although it is of an extremely slim margin, is being driven by the impulses that coarse through the veins of the MAGA Moron caucus that has managed to outshout not only Democrats but also the more reasonable members of the once-great Republican Party.

The MAGA minions insist on impeaching President Biden before they consider approving a federal budget. For what? Beats the hell out of me!

The MAGAites even have steamrolled House Speaker Kevin McCarthy into toeing their line. McCarthy went seemingly overnight from being someone who blamed the MAGA mouthpiece in chief for inciting the 1/6 assault on our government to becoming one of the dipsh**’s chief allies in the House. That’s not good enough to satisfy the MAGA morons.

So, here we are. Government could shut down again by Oct. 1. We’ll get to hear nonsensical speeches from GOP House members and perhaps even some senators about the wisdom of shutting it all down.

It is government performed by the cosmically stupid.

DeSantis had me … then he lost me

Just as I was feeling pretty good about Florida Gov. Ron  DeSantis’s ability to do the job to which he was elected, he then stiffs me with a petulant slap at the Biden administration’s effort to help ease the pain of Floridians suffering from the effects of Hurricane Idalia.

DeSantis wants to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2024. He took time off from the campaign trail to inform Florida residents of the things his state’s government is trying to do to protect them against the hurricane. That’s what he was elected to do, yes? Of course!

Then the GOP governor says “no dice” to President Biden’s relief effort — part of the Inflation Reduction Act — that totaled $350 million. The feds can keep the money, DeSantis said. What? But … shoot, governor, it’s money that aims to help your residents, your constituents, the people to whom you are responsible!

As Politico reports: “It’s unfortunate that some officials are putting politics ahead of delivering meaningful progress for hard working Americans,” said White House spokesman Michael Kikukawa. “Despite this, President Biden and his administration are working with cities, counties, businesses, nonprofits, and other entities in the Sunshine State to ensure Floridians benefit from the lower costs and stronger economy delivered by his agenda.”

Yeah, it’s “unfortunate.” It’s also disgusting and petulant.

The IRA contains several energy-savings provisions in it. As Politico reports: The Biden administration has explored ways around the energy rebate blockade but has come up empty so far, according to federal and state officials. The IRA was written in a way that requires the rebates to go through a state energy office. Unlike many federal laws, there is no federal fallback option or way to circumvent an obstinate governor.

Gov. DeSantis, though, will have none of it, given that it just might reflect positively on President Biden.