Category Archives: economic news

POTUS walks back a demand

By John Kanelis /

President Biden had me, then he lost me. Then he got me back again.

Biden and a bipartisan group of U.S. senators hammered out a deal on an infrastructure plan. They marched out in front of reporters at the White House and declared “We have a deal.”

Then the president said this: “I expect that in the coming months this summer, before the fiscal year is over, that we will have voted on this bill, the infrastructure bill, as well as voted on the budget resolution. But if only one comes to me, this is the only one that comes to me, I’m not signing it. It’s in tandem.”

As the saying goes: Oops!

GOP senators accept Biden walk-back on infrastructure | TheHill

Biden signaled right then that he wanted a more expensive and expansive infrastructure deal that only Democrats could approve. He drew complaints from Republicans and from Democratic moderates who worked their tails off trying to hammer out this deal.

Then the president in effect took back what he said.

To which I say that’s a good thing for the cause of good government.

President Biden should take the deal worked out. It’s not as much as he and many others want to spend but, hey, a trillion dollars-plus is still a lot of dough.

As for Biden’s walk-back, his change of tune has satisfied at least two members of the GOP negotiating team — Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman of Ohio. They both said they “trust” the president and are going to work to ensure that the infrastructure deal upon which they agreed gets through Congress and lands on Biden’s desk.

Americans want their bridges, highways and rail lines to be safe for human activity. They want their seaports and airports to be modernized and made safe for travel. The Internet has become an increasing part of Americans’ lives and they want high-speed Internet service. The infrastructure deal is widely popular among Americans.

The deal worked out by members of both major parties signals the kind of cooperation, camaraderie and common good the president said once was a hallmark of his days as a senator and even as vice president.

He should take this deal all by itself. As for the rest of it, fight that fight another day.

See? Compromise works!

By John Kanelis /

“We have a deal.”

So said President Biden today as he announced a bipartisan agreement to overhaul the nation’s infrastructure.

Now … is this the perfect deal? No. It isn’t. It is the product of Democrats and Republicans coming together, demanding things from the other side, then deciding that absent being able to get all the things they wanted in the deal agreed to a package that is a good bit less than what President Biden wanted to spend.

This is how government is supposed to work.

Fascinating! As The Hill reported: Biden acknowledged the deal would not include proposals he’s made for spending to help American families, but firmly endorsed the deal on infrastructure in unusual remarks just outside the White House with the bipartisan group of senators looking on.

The deal agreed upon would spend $1 trillion. It would repair thousands of miles of roads and bridges, provide high-speed Internet to virtually every home in the country.

More from The Hill: The framework includes $579 billion in new spending for a total of $973 billion over five years and just over $1.2 trillion over eight years.

It allocates $312 billion for transportation programs, including roads, bridges, airports and electric vehicles infrastructure. The remaining $266 billion would go to water infrastructure, broadband, environmental remediation, power infrastructure and other areas. 

Biden announces bipartisan deal on infrastructure | TheHill

The deal announced today strikes me as a classic ploy that President Biden played with perfect pitch. He wanted to spend $2.2 trillion — or so he said. Biden might have known from the get-go he wouldn’t persuade GOP members of Congress to agree to spending that kind of dough. So he settled on a still-significant amount of money.

He said he didn’t get all he wanted. Conservatives in Congress didn’t, either. Nor did their progressive friends.

However, the negotiating team of equal numbers of congressional Republicans and Democrats were all smiles today as they announced the framework of a deal.

Let’s get it done. Shall we?

Market collapse? Yeah … right

By John Kanelis /

Donald J. Trump and I have something in common.

Neither of us can predict outcomes worth a damn.

Perhaps you’ll recall one of the consequences Trump said would occur were Joe Biden elected president of the United States in 2020. He said the stock market would collapse, that the economy would fall into a death spiral, that Americans would be clamoring for Trump’s return to the White House.

Hmm. None of that happened. Indeed, the stock market has done quite well since President Biden took office, the economy is starting to rev its engines and, oh yeah, I don’t hear many Americans — other than the members of the Trump Cult Club of Lunatics — wanting any part of the former Imbecile in Chief.

All of this good news is helped, of course, by the success we have had in fighting the COVID pandemic.

With that I wish to declare that Trump and I do share a common trait. Now, if we can just get Trump to declare that he won’t offer lame-brained predictions in the future.

POTUS punished for good deeds?

By John Kanelis /

It really must be true that “no good deed goes unpunished.”

Consider the following:

President Biden took office in January as the nation was struggling to cope with the COVID pandemic. He promised tens of millions of vaccines in his first 100 days. He succeeded gloriously in outpacing that projection.

Then came a surge in consumer demand of supplies they couldn’t purchase because of restrictions caused by the pandemic. The worldwide supply chain has been strained as manufacturers struggle to meet the immense demand.

The punishment comes in the form of inflation that now has the White House troubled by the impact of that huge demand and the still-limited supply.

The Hill reports: All of those factors combined to push the consumer price index (CPI) up 0.8 percent in April and 4.2 percent over the past 12 months, the fastest annual rate since 2008, the Labor Department reported this past week. When stripping out the more volatile prices for food and energy, the index registered the biggest monthly increase since 1982.

While the ramped-up consumer spending is a sign of increased optimism, the Biden administration faces political risks as Americans find themselves dealing with inflation levels that the country hasn’t seen in more than a decade.

Inflation fears grow for White House (

Joe Biden is a seasoned political hand. He knows he will get pilloried for the inflation. There is no way on God’s good Earth he is going to apologize for the accelerated vaccine distribution and vaccination rates that have contributed to the “crisis” resulting in the inflationary pressure.

‘Meager’ jobs report prompts more action? Sure, but wait

By John Kanelis /

The Labor Department produced some relatively desultory job-creation figures this morning.

The private non-farm sector generated “only” 266,000 jobs in April, said the Labor bean counters. There had been projections of a million plus such jobs.

What was the response from President Biden? He said the relatively skimpy job growth means the government must do more to stimulate an economy crushed by the COVID pandemic.

I agree with him … to a point.

The jobs figures signal a need to approve something akin to the infrastructure/family/jobs package that Biden has presented to Congress.

I am not sure that we need to receive yet another round of “stimulus checks” to boost the economy.

Don’t get me wrong. My wife and I appreciate the aid we got from the government already. The $2,400 we received during the last year of the Trump administration and the $2,800 we received shortly after Joe Biden took office both have gone a long way to easing any difficulty in our home.

However, I remain a deficit hawk. I am fearful of the enormous deficits being run up during the current federal budget year. I want there to be more economic aid, but I also want it to come in the form of boosting tax rates for mega-wealthy Americans and corporations who find a way to avoid shouldering their share of the tax burden.

As for the infrastructure portion of the Biden package, by all means let us put people to work building and rebuilding our roads, bridges, airports and seaports. President Biden has thrown out an interesting idea, to re-create the Civilian Conservation Corps established during the Franklin Roosevelt administration as a way to rid the nation of the Great Depression. Let’s have that discussion, too.

I am not panicking just because one month’s job numbers didn’t measure up to what the brainiacs had predicted. I urge our government leaders to avoid pushing the economic pedal to the metal full bore.

POTUS: Someone has to pay for what we need

By John Kanelis /

President Biden’s many decades in government taught him a hard lesson, which is that everything the government does comes with a cost.

Taxpayers have to foot the bill.

He pushed a COVID relief package through Congress. He now wants to enact an infrastructure overhaul through the legislative body. Both of them together are projected at around $4 trillion.

Ouch … yes? Yes, but here’s the deal: In order to pay for all this, the president seeks to levy taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Now he is talking about an increase in capital gains taxes.

Donald Trump talked about infrastructure deals, too. Nothing happened. Congress didn’t move anything through. The president never articulated a way to pay for whatever it was he wanted done. He seemed to suggest that the tax cuts he rammed through Congress would jumpstart the economy sufficiently so that any major government project would pay for itself.

It didn’t happen. Then the pandemic brought the economy to its knees.

Trump lost his re-election bid and now a new president is trying to craft a workable plan to pay for a massive effort to rebuild our economy.

The tax plan already pushed out there will not increase taxes to a level prior to the cut enacted during the Trump years. It still gives congressional Republicans fits, so they’ll fit it along with everything else that the Democratic president proposes.

Reasonableness be damned!

Deficits no longer matter?


About the only conclusion I am able to draw about the current federal government fiscal debate is that the numbers have gotten so big that mere human minds no longer can grasp their meaning in ways that make any sense.

I refer to the federal budget deficit.

The government is now spending more than $1 trillion more than it has on hand on various and sundry programs. There used to be a time when Republicans railed heavily against Democrats’ tendency to spend more than they had in till. Then along came President George W. Bush, who cajoled Congress to enact tax cuts while fighting an international war against terror.

Bush took over the presidency when the budget actually ran a surplus! That all changed during the Bush years. The deficits mounted. Indeed, Vice President Dick Cheney once said famously that deficits “no longer mattered.”

The economy cratered near the end of Bush’s time. President Barack Obama sought to rescue the nation. He poured even more money into the deficit sinkhole. The deficit kept growing. Then the economy bounced back. Tax revenue helped cut the annual deficit by more than half by the time Obama left office.

Then along came Donald Trump, the self-proclaimed populist. He and his GOP allies rammed through a big tax cut. However, he kept spending money. The deficit piled up once again. It surpassed the trillion-dollar annual mark by the time he left office.

Now it’s President Joe Biden’s turn. The pandemic has all but wrecked the economy. Biden has pushed through a big COVID relief package. Now he wants to spend another $2.25 trillion over 10 years on infrastructure. He wants to raise taxes to help pay for it. Republicans aren’t buying it.

But … the deficit! What about the deficit?

I am a deficit hawk. I seriously dislike spending money we don’t have. I cannot do so in my home. Then again, I cannot print money at will, either.

My best guess at this moment is that deficit spending is so out of control that the bean counters have thrown up their hands in surrender.

POTUS keeps name off checks


It is worth asking, I suppose, whether any American who receives a COVID-19 relief check from the U.S. Treasury is going to wonder why it lacks the name of the president of the United States, Joseph R. Biden.

I know the answer. No one is going to care whether President Biden’s name is on the check. Any more than Americans cared that Donald J. Trump’s name was affixed to the earlier round of relief checks that circulated.

Yet, the former president made a big deal out of ensuring that his name appeared on them. He wanted Americans to see that he was responsible for the help that arrived in their bank accounts or in their mail boxes.

Except that Donald Trump played virtually no role in negotiating the deal that helped millions of Americans.

His successor, Joe Biden, did play a role in crafting this current round of relief. However, his name will be nowhere on the payments.

That’s how collaborative government is supposed to work.

It’s cold, but …

Winter can be a bitch.

My wife and I sat in a cold house for most of two days, victimized by a remarkable freeze that paralyzed much of Texas. It certainly grabbed North Texas by the throat. Our electrical grid was overtaxed and it couldn’t handle the demands placed on it by the plummeting temperature.

I am struck by a thought that keeps nagging at me. Weather such as what we experienced – 10-degree high temperatures and lows near zero in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, for crying out loud! – is going to energize the climate change deniers out there.

They are going to say something like this: Hey, the bitter cold weather of the winter of 2021 just proves that Earth’s climate isn’t changing, that it isn’t warming up, that our planet isn’t in dire jeopardy at all!

To which I would say: Nonsense. Earth’s climate is changing and our planet and those of us who live on it are facing dire peril every year we fail to come to grips with humanity’s contribution to the change.

I am reminded of the time an infamous climate-change denier, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, brought a snowball onto the Senate floor to illustrate the very point that climate change is a hoax. Why, how can Earth’s climate be warming when Washington, D.C., at that very moment was gripped in such a bitter cold snap?

Such idiocy doesn’t take the long view, doesn’t look at it through the longest lens possible.

National environmental observers note that the median temperature of Earth, examined over a period of an entire year, suggest a distinct warming trend. I daresay that when they take our planet’s temperature at the end of this year it will continue to show the same trend.

So please. Spare me the notion that a current deep freeze – a symptom of winter weather – is somehow proof that the larger crisis doesn’t exist. It most certainly does exist.

Now … I am just wishing for a quick warmup.

It’s not ‘Trump’s money’


Those COVID-19 relief checks are starting to arrive and it is producing heated exchanges between at least two people, one of whom is a friend of mine, the other is a total stranger.

These individuals differ on their views about Donald J. Trump. My friend is an anti-Trump guy; the other fellow is a Trumpkin/Trumpster/Trumpenator.

The Trump guy is angry at my friend, apparently, because he is accepting his stimulus payment, even though he opposes Trump’s policies.

Hmm. The stranger in this fight says my friend shouldn’t be taking “Trump’s money.”

Whoa! I reminded my friend, who didn’t need reminding, that he isn’t taking “Trump’s money.” It didn’t come out of his pocket. It came out of his pocket, and mine, and his Trump-loving friend’s pocket. It’s our money.

My friend laughed out loud. He did remind his Trumpkin pal that the relief package was approved by a healthy majority in both congressional chambers, it was a “bipartisan” effort. He also took note of ow Trump took no active part in the negotiations with Democrats.

I fear we have cheapened our deep and intense political and philosophical differences to this kind of childish level. I also would be willing to wager that other “friends” — in addition to the fellows I have just described — have ensued across the nation.

What a shame.