Saturday, November 23, 2013

California October 2013 Unemployment Rate

California's October 2013 unemployment rate stands at 8.7%, higher than 45 others states and lower than four states and Washington, D.C.  California's unemployment rate is essentially unchanged from its July 2013 level but higher than the national rate of 7.3%.

The California economy added 39,800 jobs from September to October 2013.  California has regained 868,300 jobs of the roughly 1.3 million jobs lost after the global financial crisis.  To date, California has recovered 67% of the jobs that California had in January, 2008.

While California continues to have decent job growth, it continues to lag other states.  The following chart compares the job growth since January 2008 between the two most-populous states, California and Texas.

On the national level ...

Unemployment patterns remain as before the 2008-2009 recession, only magnified.  Unemployment is highest for those lacking a high school diploma.  The unemployment rate improves with increasing education. However, at all educational levels, unemployment rates remain higher than their pre-recession levels.

Likewise, previous patterns of unemployment by rate or ethnicity continue, only magnified.  The unemployment rate for black or African-Americans is highest, followed by Hispanics or Latinos, then followed by whites and Asians.  Only Asians have an unemployment rate lower than the peak of the previous recession.

The ratio of civilian unemployment to total population remains stubbornly stagnant at its lowest level in a generation.  The falling unemployment rate may be due to fewer people in the work force.
Likewise, the civilian labor force participation rate is its lowest since 1978.

The average duration of unemployment, while falling, remains near its all-time record high of 40.7 weeks. The previous high was 21.2, well below the current value of 36.1 weeks.
The following chart shows the total non-form employment for the United States from 2000 until October 2013.  During the current downturn, the U.S. job market lost over 8.7 million jobs from its January 2008 peak. Since then, the job market regained 7.2 million of those jobs, or 83% of the previous peak level. Meanwhile, the working-age population increased by 9.5 million from 2008 to 2012 and likely more through 2013.  Consequently, while the U.S. economy is adding jobs, it is also adding workers.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Federal Budget Deficit Drops Below $1 TRILLION for the First Time During the Obama Presidency

The U.S. federal budget deficit dropped below the $1 TRILLION mark for the first time during the Obama Presidency.  Many politicians, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, were quick to herald this "incredible accomplishment."  After all, the President has been busy claiming that he's reduced the deficit at the fastest rate in 60 years.  Naturally, he forgot to mention that his administration also INCREASED deficits at the fastest rate in 60 years.

While a $680 BILLION deficit may seem a major accomplishment, it represents 4.1% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).  Prior to the Obama Presidency, the last time the U.S. budget deficit was this high was 1992 during the last year of the George H.W. ("read my lips") Bush Presidency.  Borrowing was approximately $1.85 BILLION for each and every day of the fiscal year.

See also ...

The Rest of the Story Behind President Obama's Deficit Claim and PolitiFact's "Fact Checking"

Monday, October 21, 2013

John F. Kennedy: Former President, Democrat, and "Teabagger"?

President John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, once said the following on January 29, 1961, otherwise known as Roosevelt Day.  With such pro-American "violent Tea Party rhetoric," can you imagine what today's Democratic Party would call him?

In my own native state of Massachusetts, the battle for American freedom was begun by the thousands of farmers and tradesmen who made up the Minute Men--citizens who were ready to defend their liberty at a moment's notice. Today we need a nation of Minute Men; citizens who are not only prepared to take up arms, but citizens who regard the preservation of freedom as a basic purpose of their daily life and who are willing to consciously work and sacrifice for that freedom. The cause of liberty, the cause of America, cannot succeed with any lesser effort

Often-Quoted CNN/ORC Polls Shows that Majority Dislikes John Boeher AND Consistently Opposes Obamacare

A recent CNN/ORC poll attracted significant media attention because it indicates that a majority of those polled say that they favor somebody else as Speaker of the House over John Boehner.  See Question 10.

Sadly, the media failed to notice Question 14 that shows that a majority of those polled have consistently opposed President Obama's health care plan.  See the top graph.  In fact, the President's plan has never once received majority support.

For the record, I'm not a John Boehner fan either.  I just find it amusing what the media reports and what the media chooses to ignore.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Tea Party and Charges of Sedition

There are those among the Left who seek to file charges of sedition or inflict physical violence upon those associated with the Tea Party.  I suggest that both sides consider the wise words of former President Theodore Roosevelt, written when many challenged the Wilson Administration's seeming unconstitutional abuse of power during World War I.

Kansas City Star on May 7, 1918:
"Sedition, A Free Press, and Personal Rule
The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."
Apparently, even former First Lady and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems to agree with this view.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Predictable: Treasury Department Adds Record Debt the Day after Congress Eliminated Debt Ceiling

The October 2013 government shutdown agreement resulted in Congress temporarily(?) removing the debt ceiling. As predicted in a previous post, Treasury has now added a record, $328 BILLION in unrecognized debt to the U.S. public debt in a single day--nearly a third of a TRILLION dollars in debt. This "new" debt was kept off the public debt to avoid exceeding the legal debt limit. The money has already been spent and was "borrowed" from a variety of other public funds including the retirement plans for federal employees. From the chart, even after adding $328 BILLION, Treasury will likely add another $25 BILLION in the next following days, until the actual public debt approaches the blue dashed trend line.

The following chart shows the daily increase or decrease in the U.S. national debt, measured in billions of dollars. It's the same information as above but only presents the day-to-day changes in the debt. The previous record increase followed the 2011 debt-limit debate when Treasury dropped $238 BILLION of off-the-books debt onto the public debt. The latest debt-limit impasse lasted longer and Treasury built up significantly more off-the-books debt. As a result, as soon as Congress removed the limit, Treasury officially recognized $328 BILLION in "new" debt.

Even a drunken sailor can predict that our current debt trajectory is "unsustainable." So what do we do about it?
  • Congress and the President must craft and PASS an actual budget. The U.S. government has continued to operate without a formal budget for most of President Obama's tenure.
  • Congress needs to vote on the fiscal reforms proposed by the Bowles-Simpson debt commission charted by President Obama.

See also ...

Is the U.S. Treasury Hiding Debt (Again)?

The Debt Ceiling and Where Do You Hide $238 BILLION?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

California has the Nation's 6th Highest Incident of Abortion

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill expanding the the list of non-physician professionals allowed to provide abortion procedures in the state.  Based on Census data, California only has the nation's 6th-highest rate of abortion, behind Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. California's incident of abortion far exceeds the national average.  That's how "rare" abortion is in California.

The good new?  The California Legislature finally deregulated a business.  Too bad it for abortions.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Senator Obama Calls President Obama "A Leadership Failure"

Remember back in 2006 when President Obama spoke like a member of the Tea Party (the Tea Party hadn't been created yet)?

As the United States Congress and the President once again discuss raising the debt ceiling, it's good to ponder the words from then-Senator Barack Obama to the Senate on 16 March 2006. Back then, our official public debt was just $8.6 TRILLION.  It currently stands near $17 TRILLION, much of that increase under President Obama's reign.
Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America's debt problem.

The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies.

Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is "trillion" with a "T." That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers. And over the next 5 years, between now and 2011, the President's budget will increase the debt by almost another $3.5 trillion.
Numbers that large are sometimes hard to understand. Some people may wonder why they matter. Here is why: This year, the Federal Government will spend $220 billion on interest. That is more money to pay interest on our national debt than we'll spend on Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. That is more money to pay interest on our debt this year than we will spend on education, homeland security, transportation, and veterans benefits combined. It is more money in one year than we are likely to spend to rebuild the devastated gulf coast in a way that honors the best of America.

And the cost of our debt is one of the fastest growing expenses in the Federal budget. This rising debt is a hidden domestic enemy, robbing our cities and States of critical investments in infrastructure like
bridges, ports, and levees; robbing our families and our children of critical investments in education and health care reform; robbing our seniors of the retirement and health security they have counted on. Every dollar we pay in interest is a dollar that is not going to investment in America's priorities. Instead, interest payments are a significant tax on all Americans — a debt tax that Washington doesn't want to talk about. If Washington were serious about honest tax relief in this country, we would see an effort to reduce our national debt by returning to responsible fiscal policies.

But we are not doing that. Despite repeated efforts by Senators Conrad and Feingold, the Senate continues to reject a return to the commonsense Pay-go rules that used to apply. Previously, Pay-go rules applied both to increases in mandatory spending and to tax cuts. The Senate had to abide by the commonsense budgeting principle of balancing expenses and revenues. Unfortunately, the principle was abandoned, and now the demands of budget discipline apply only to spending. As a result, tax breaks have not been paid for by reductions in Federal spending, and thus the only way to pay for them has been to increase our deficit to historically high levels and borrow more and more money. Now we have to pay for those tax breaks plus the cost of borrowing for them. Instead of reducing the deficit, as some people claimed, the fiscal policies of this administration and its allies in Congress will add more than $600 million in debt for each of the next 5 years. That is why I will once again cosponsor the Pay-go amendment and continue to hope that my colleagues will return to a smart rule that has worked in the past and can work again.

Our debt also matters internationally. My friend, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, likes to remind us that it took 42 Presidents 224 years to run up only $1 trillion of foreign-held debt. This administration did more than that in just 5 years. Now, there is nothing wrong with borrowing from foreign countries. But we must remember that the more we depend on foreign nations to lend us money, the more our economic security is tied to the whims of foreign leaders whose interests might not be aligned with ours.

Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here." Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.

Monday, September 16, 2013

On the Contrary Mr. President, ObamaCare Does "Shoot Rates Way Up"

UPDATED on 8-OCT-2013 with latest pricing information from Covered California.  The new pricing is slightly higher than the information available in September, before the exchanges opened officially.

In a September 16, 2013 speech, President Obama said of the "Affordable Care Act (ACA or ObamaCare), the signature legislation during his presidency ...

“There were lot of the horror stories, how this would shoot rates way up, how there were going to be death panels, and all that stuff. None of that’s happened."
I'm sorry, Mr. President, but you are WRONG and I have the numbers to prove it--at least for our family.  Maybe a DOUBLING or a TRIPLING of insurance costs may not qualify for "shoot rates way up" in your book, but they do in ours.

Here's a chart showing the actual monthly premium costs paid for our Blue Shield of California high-deductible plan since the President first proposed his major overhaul of the U.S. health care system.  As is PLAINLY obvious, our rates have more than DOUBLED!  We even experienced a 30% increase just months after the "Affordable" Care Act (ACA) was officially signed into law.

That red dot in the upper right-hand corner?  That the price of the least-expensive plan available from Covered California, the ObamaCare health insurance exchange.  Notice that it is HIGHER than what we pay now, unless we receive a taxpayer-financed subsidy.  So, if we adopt one of the President's plans, our insurance premiums will be 231% higher--more than TRIPLE--what they were when the President first proposed ObamaCare.  The ObamaCare policy is also roughly 50% HIGHER than what we pay now.

The dashed dark red line shows the trend line for a 20.1% annual growth rate since President Obama took office, which is MUCH, MUCH faster than the official rate of inflation.

On the Covered California exchange, the price you actually pay for health insurance depends on your family size, age, and--most importantly--how much money you make.  The least-expensive plan available for our family is $1,121 per month, or $13,452 per year.  Depending on your income, the price you pay for this policy ranges from $0 to $13,224 with any difference generously paid by taxpayers via a subsidy called "premium assistance," as shown in the following chart.

There's also an interesting "feature" of the pricing structure.  For example, should our family income be $110,279 (which isn't "rich" for many portions of Santa Cruz County and its high housing costs and cost of living), we would pay $446 per month ($5,352 per year) for a $1,121 per month ($13,452 per year) health insurance package. Despite our income, the additional $8,100 cost difference is generously paid by as a subsidy from taxpayers.

However, should I earn just $1 more, the ObamaCare pricing scheme "shoot rates way up," as the President so eloquently states it, by $8,100.  Earning just $1 more--$110,280 per year instead of $100,279--increases my health insurance cost by $8,100!

I understand the reader's skepticism at this seemingly ridiculous claim.  Consequently, I encourage you to visit the Covered California web site and double-check my numbers for yourself using the data provided above in the screen shots.  One can only hope that this is somehow a "glitch" in the system, but it appears to be built into the pricing scheme for all packages, just at different income levels based on the number and ages of people covered.

As a side note, I fully expect those income limits to remain firm as income naturally increase thanks to inflation.  That way, more and more people are forced off subsidies into paying the full cost.  The current income levels are likely set based on ballot-box power.  You only need a certain percentage of people receiving government benefits to force them to vote your way.

Surely, ObamaCare makes those earning above $100,279 pay more simply out of fairness, right? Let's instead evaluate ObamaCare premiums as a percentage of total family income, as shown in the following chart. Those in the Obamacare "Donut Hole" pay the most as a percentage of income. The donut hole extends from $110,280 to almost $290,000.  Those making less than $110,280 pay less thanks to taxpayer subsidies.  Those making more than $290,000 pay less because ObamaCare premiums are a smaller share of their family income.  The "affordability" red line under the "Affordable" Care Act is supposed that nobody should pay more than 9.5% of their income toward health care.  On that measure, Covered California fails those earning between $110,280 and a little more than $140,000. Those who suffer from the wedge will either work less or work more to avoid the extra burden.  This is not what sane policy looks like.

But it gets worse.  Consider your "after-insurance" income under ObamaCare.  If I made $110,279, I would pay $5,352 for insurance but receive a $13,452 insurance policy thanks to the generous $8,100 taxpayer-provided subsidy.  My effective after-insurance income would be $110,279 (income) - $5,352 (the cost of the ObamaCare policy) + 8,100 (subsidy to buy and benefit from a $13,224 insurance plan), which equates to $113,027.

However, if I earn jut $1 more--$110,280 instead of $110,279--my after-insurance income actually DROPS BY $16,199!  My effective after-insurance income would be $110,280 (income) - $13,452 (the cost of the ObamaCare policy) + $0 (subsidy), which equates to just $97,056.

Thanks to ObamaCare, I can earn $1 more and actually end up with $16,199 less!  That's Obamanomics for you.

I won't even discuss the much more limited access to doctors.  It took over two months for my daughter to see a doctor about a leg injury.  In the meantime, she's stuck on crutches.

See also ...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Syria and Chemical Weapons

Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning President Obama alleges that the Assad's regime in Syria used chemical weapons against his own people.  President Obama's recommended solution to redress this crime is to forgo using the collectivist, international frameworks that he so often praises and instead push for immediate and unilateral military attacks against Syria.  Syria did not attack the United States.

Assuming that the Obama Administration's charges against Syria are correct, is this the best solution?

The vast majority--188 altogether--of the planet's nations are signatories and have ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), shown here in green.  As of the most recent update (May, 2009), five nations (shown in brown) choose not to participate in the agreement, including Syria, Egypt, North Korea, Somalia, and Angola.  Two nations have signed the CWC but have not ratified it, including Israel and Myanmar (formerly Burma).  Israel is located between Syria and Egypt, neither of whom have signed the CWC.

Although Syria has not signed the CWC, it did sign the Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare, also known as the Geneva Protocol.  The Geneva Protocol does not explicitly contain enforcement provisions.

Article XII of the CWC, however, describes the enforcement regime to ensure compliance.  Article XII states that ...
3. In cases where serious damage to the object and purpose of this Convention may result from activities prohibited under this Convention, in particular by Article I, the Conference may recommend collective measures to States Parties in conformity with international law.
4. The Conference shall, in cases of particular gravity, bring the issue, including relevant information and conclusions, to the attention of the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council.

The United States is a signatory to the CWC.  Note that the CWC does not indicate that member nations can take unilateral action against an offender, unless, of course, the member state was directly attacked by the defender.  The alleged Syrian chemical attack happened exclusively within the borders of Syria, a non-member to the CWC. True, there is a risk that Syria's chemical weapons could fall into the hands of rogue players in the course of the Syrian civil war.  Will President Obama quote the Bush Doctrine of Preemptive Attack as justification?

Is President Obama afraid that CWC member states are just too weak to stand up to the mighty Assad regime?  Do the CWC member states have the military or economic power to dissuade Syria from further chemical attacks?

The CWC members nations include all twenty members of the G-20 major economies.
  1. European Union
  2. United States of America
  3. China
  4. Japan
  5. Germany
  6. France
  7. United Kingdom
  8. Brazil
  9. Russia
  10. Italy
  11. India
  12. Canada
  13. Australia
  14. Mexico
  15. South Korea
  16. Indonesia (an Islamic nation)
  17. Turkey (secular, but predominantly Islamic nation, neighbors Syria)
  18. Saudi Arabia (an Islamic nation)
  19. Argentina
  20. South Africa
If economic sanctions are not powerful enough against Syria, military force might be justified. The CWC members nations include eight of the ten largest militaries (by personnel).  Syria is ranked 15th.
  1. China
  2. United States
  3. India
  4. North Korea (NOT A CWC MEMBER)
  5. Russian Federation (an ally of Syria)
  6. South Korea
  7. Turkey (who neighbors Syria and is predominantly Islamic)
  8. Pakistan (an Islamic nation)
  9. Iran (an Islamic nation but whose Hezbollah proxies are already fighting in the Syrian civil war)
  10. Egypt (NOT A CWC MEMBER)
Why is President Obama pursuing unilateral military action against Syria instead of filing an official complaint via the CWC or directly taking the case to the United States General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council?  It is likely that China and Russia, two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, will veto military action in Syria. However, the United States should pursue a diplomatic route to convince other United Nations members and not resort to unilateral action.

See also ...

Foreign Affairs: "No Strike, No Problem: The Right Way to Nurture a Norm" by Richard Price

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Booker T. Washington on "Race Problem Solvers"

Today, 28-AUG-2013, marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

In celebration, a number of prominent "civil rights" proponents took the podium in Washington. Listening to their words, it appears that some either slept through King's actual speech, misunderstood its meaning, or have other motives. The behavior of some civil rights "leaders" (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and sometimes even the President himself) reminds me of the words of Booker T. Washington, who was one the last generation of African American leaders born into slavery.
I am afraid that there is a certain class of race problem solvers who don't want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.
From "My Larger Education" by Booker T. Washington (1911).

Booker T. Washington's words are amazingly prescient having been written more than a century ago.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Is the U.S. Treasury Hiding Debt (Again)?

"You can observe a lot by just watching." 
-- Yogi Berra
A number of web sites have been amazed that the U.S. public debt holds remarkably steady near the maximum legal limit of $16,699,396,000,000.00 ($16.699 TRILLION) for 70 days and counting.  Has the U.S. government stopped spending?  Okay, pick yourself off the floor from laughing.  No, the Treasury is simply hiding debt using "extraordinary measures", as they've done in the past.

The Treasury provides the daily debt status on their web site.  You can also search for historical data. Here's a chart the graphs this total pubic debt since January 1, 2008.  Click to enlarge.  The chart also shows the legal debt limit in effect over time.  Note that there have been prior periods where the debt remained remarkably flat for a long period of time--before August 2, 2011 as an example.

As soon as Congress approves a new, higher debt limit, the Treasury remarkably reports a surge in new debt.  It's an old game.  After Congress increased the debt ceiling on August 1, 2011, miraculously, the U.S. needed to borrow nearly a quarter trillion dollars in new debt!  Where did Treasury hide that $238 billion in debt?  Similarly, the Treasury borrowed $120 billion in new debt over a two day period starting January 30, 2012.  Enron and WorldCom accountants would be proud.

Applying a linear regression of the data (R-squared is 0.9874, indicating a good match), it appears that the U.S. government is borrowing roughly $3 billion a day!  Granted, the Federal Reserve is currently buying $85 billion in U.S. debt per month, so the two numbers jive nicely ($85 billion divided by 30.4 days per month equals about $2.8 billion per day).  As reported by the Treasury, the total public debt remained flat at about $16.699 TRILLION. However, at $3 billion per day, the projected debt very likely currently exceeds $17.10 TRILLION.  So where is Treasury hiding that extra third to half a trillion dollars?

Once Congress inevitably increases the debt limit, as they always do, stay tuned for a whopper of a borrowing day by the Treasury.  Of course, we could balance the federal budget, but ...

See also ...

United States Treasury Department: The Daily History of the Debt Results (1-JAN-2011 to 26-JUL-2013, “Total Public Debt Outstanding”)

The Concord Coalition: Understanding the Federal Debt Liming (Increases in the Debt Limit since 1997)

Congressional Research Service: The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases (May 22, 2013)

Soquel by the Creek: The Debt Ceiling and Where Do You Hide $238 BILLION?

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Rest of the Story Behind President Obama's Deficit Claim and PolitiFact's "Fact Checking"

In a speech at Knox College in Illinois on July 24, 2013, President Obama said ...

"... our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years."

The fact-checking website PolitiFact even rated this claim as true.  However, PolitiFact fails to put this claim and their "true" rating into proper context.  It is much like saying that it is true that the Nazis did good things, as some still claim, while ignoring the big picture of their atrocities and mass murder.

It is indeed true that "our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years," as shown in the following figure (click to enlarge).  According to the PolitiFact article, the White House makes this claim using a four-year change in the deficit as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product, as shown in this chart.  However, what both President Obama and PolitiFact fail to mention is that while "our deficits are falling at the fastest rate in 60 years," this comes after increasing our deficits at the fastest rate since we won World War II after defeating the Nazis and the Japanese Empire.  The deficit reduction is laudable, but it also comes as a result of the prior massive deficits.  Some of the deficit spending during President Obama's first term can be attributed to Bush-era spending, under a Democrat-controlled Congress, including seizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, TARP, and the initial auto bailouts. Additional spending happened under the Obama Administration, again with the Democrat-controlled Congress, including the $787 billion Stimulus, Cash for Clunkers, buying General Motors, 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, and increased welfare, food stamps, and disability benefits.

Let's look at this same information in another manner.  The following chart shows the annual budget surplus or deficit (mostly deficits) as measured as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).  The bars are color-coded by political party of the President (red for Republican, blue for Democrat) and the Presidents are listed at the top.  As you can see, it is technically true that we are currently reducing our deficits at their fastest pace in 60 years, but only because we ran massive deficits in excess of $1 TRILLION for four years from 2009 through 2012.  Although the 2013 fiscal year isn't yet complete, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) forecasts a smaller annual budget deficit of $759 billion, which helps bolster the President's claim.  However, as a percentage of GDP, this "greatly reduced" deficit still exceeds the largest deficit from President George H. W. Bush in 1992--twenty years earlier.  Part of the reason for the for the smaller budget deficit is the controversial sequestration process that enforces across-the-board budget reductions in spending growth.

Our Rating

We rate the President's claim as "technically true but misleading."  The President is making claims that omit the full context for his claims.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that we've found President Obama's claims to be factually correct but misleading.  He, or somebody on his staff, is apparently a fan of the classic book, How to Lie with Statistics.  For another example, see President Obama's claims "... that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson.”.  Based on Ho's actions, however, Ho apparently read a cheap knock-off translation of these works.

See also ...


We received the following tweet that originally alerted us to President Obama's deficit claim. Unfortunately, many of the President's supporters do not actually understand what the President claimed.

The United States government, in no way, shape, or form is the "smallest government in 50 years." The Twitterer is potentially mistaking a claim that we have the lowest percentage of people employed by the government in 45 years. Likewise, the President has not "reduced debt faster than any other President in history."  The President's claim is about deficit reduction, not debt reduction.  Here's a quick tutorial on the difference between deficit and debt, courtesy of the United States Treasury.

In order to have actual debt reduction, we must first run a budget surplus ... and we're in no danger of doing that any time soon.  However, based on changes to policy, it is possible to reduce the forecasted future debt while currently running a deficit.

The President's claim also covers the last 60 years (actually, 64-65 years), not all of U.S. history. There were much bigger improvements to deficits immediately following the end of World War II.

Sorry, we don't "Ignorant much" around these parts.


According to PolitiFact, the Obama Administration makes this claim using the annual budget deficit measured as a percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP).  They then measure the difference over a four-year time frame (YEAR(n) - YEAR(n-4).  The deficit as a percentage of GDP data is available directly from the White House web site as Table 1.2.  Use the field "Surplus or Deficit" under "Total".  We used the mid-year updated figures from the White House for 2013, which is not included in Table 1.2.  The updated values are -4.7% and $795 billion, which are to the benefit of the President's claim.

Data Sources

White House: Office of Management and Budget: Historical Tables
Table 1.2—Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (-): 1789–2018 (Total Surplus or Deficit as a Percentage of U.S. GDP)
Table 1.1—Summary of Receipts, Outlays, and Surpluses or Deficits (-) as Percentages of GDP: 1930–2018 (Total Surplus or Deficit in Current Dollars)

Wall Street Journal: White House Sees Smaller Budget Deficit in 2013 (Lower, revised 2013 deficit numbers based on mid-year update)

PolitiFact: Obama says deficit is falling at the fastest rate in 60 years Deficits Falling (From Way Up)

Friday, June 21, 2013

California May 2013 Unemployment Rate

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), California's official unemployment rate continued to improve in May 2013, dropping by 0.4% from 0.9% in April to 8.6% in May. The national unemployment rate increased 0.1% to 7.6%. California's unemployment rate continues to lag the nation as a whole and is tied with New Jersey at the 5th-highest in the nation ahead of Nevada, Mississippi, Illinois, Rhode Island, and North Carolina.

SOURCE:  U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:  Unemployment Rate for States, Seasonally Adjusted (April 2013, preliminary).

The current 8.6% unemployment rate is at its lowest level since October 2008, just before the 2008 Presidential election. The current 8.6% unemployment rate remains higher than the 7.0% peak during the prior recession although it currently is lower than the peak of the early 1990s recession.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis: Unemployment Rate in California (CAUR)

Total non-farm payroll jobs in California grew by 10,800 jobs and presently stands at 14,612,500 jobs.  The current levels is up 727,200 jobs since the bottom of the recession but is is down 529,600 jobs from January 2008. At the current growth rate of 10,800 jobs per month, total employment will reach January 2008 levels in approximately four yours.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:  California, Total Nonfarm, Seasonally adjusted - SMS06000000000000001.

Approximately 1.6 million Californians remain unemployed, down 364,000 from May 2012.

At the national level, the civilian participation rates in the job market (CIVPART, EMRATIO) remain at their lowest levels in a generation and show no immediate signs of improvement.

The average (mean) duration of unemployment (UEMPMEAN) and the median duration of unemployment (UEMPMED) remain well above the highs set in prior recessions.  The average duration is for all those who are unemployed.  The median indicates that 50% of those who are unemployed had a longer duration, 50% had a shorter duration.  The difference between the mean and the median indicates that there are a large number of long-term unemployed people.  This may be a possible effect of providing 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Overall national unemployment rates exhibit their typical ethnic and education-level patterns.

Nationally, Black or African American unemployment is highest at 13.5%, followed by Hispanic or Latino unemployment at 9.1%.  White unemployment is 6.7% while Asian unemployment is lowest at 4.3%.

The unemployment rate is highest for those lacking a high school diploma, currently at 11.1%.  The data is only for those 25 and older, so it does not include teenage unemployment data. Those who are high school graduates, but no college have a 7.4% unemployment rate.  For those with a bachelor's degree or higher, unemployment stands at 3.8%.  In all categories, the overall unemployment rate is higher than historical averages.

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Rare Day Indeed: Drudge Report and Huffington Post are Critical of the Same Politician

June 6, 2013 was indeed a rare day.  The Drudge Report and Huffington Post are often politically diametrically opposed.  Both the Drudge Report and Huffington Post took aim at President Barack Obama and both disapproved of his Administration's policies allowing covert NSA eavesdropping and data mining operations that allegedly involved innocent Americans.

Drudge Report (June 6, 2013)

Huffington Post (June 6, 2013)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The IRS' Employee Union Historically Gives 90%+ to Democrats

The IRS is accused of targeting Tea Party and similar groups for excess scrutiny when these groups applied for tax-free 501(c)(4) status.  Various reasons for the extra scrutiny is alleged.  However, does the IRS' own public-sector employee union play a role?

IRS employees are organized by the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), who also manages employees within other divisions of the federal government.  The Tea Party groups advocate for smaller, more affordable government which is in direct conflict with employees and their union within the federal government.  Is this the reason for the additional IRS scrutiny?

While the NTEU isn't among the bigger political spenders at the national level, historically, they give roughly 90% or more to Democrats.

Targeting the Tea Parties While Obama Allies Remain Tax-Free

There is ample evidence that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigated "Tea Party", "Patriot", and "9/12 Project" groups with "extreme prejudice" when they applied for 501(c)(4) tax-free status.  The excuse for the excessive reviews is because these grassroots groups may potentially engage in overt political activities.  Groups with 501(c)(4) tax-free status can also keep their donors secret while political organizations like the Republican and Democratic parties cannot because they're subject to campaign disclosure laws.

The excess IRS scrutiny, especially over concerns about overt political activity, is especially laughable given the 501(c)(4) status granted to another group, Organizing for Action (OFA).

Organizing for Action (OFA) is the latest incarnation of Barack Obama's Organizing for America (OFA) from the 2008 and 2012 Presidential elections.  Organizing for America (OFA) was a community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). Organizing for Action is a tax-free, 501(c)(4) "social welfare" organization.  Does Organizing for Action directly advocate for any politician or political party, which might violate its tax-free status?  You decide.
  • You can find Organizing for Action on the web at This is the same web address used by President Obama's Organizing for America operation during the 2008 and 2012 election cycles.
  • Organizing for Action's stated purpose is to "support President Obama."
  • Organizing for Action uses the familiar, trademark Obama logo to brand its site.
  • Organizing for Action is a tax-free 501(c)(4) organization meaning that it can keep its donors secret.

  • The official, authenticated Twitter account for Barack Obama is @BarackObama.
  • The Twitter page includes the President's photo and name.
  • The profile summary acknowledges that the @BarackObama Twitter account is "run by Organizing for Action staff."
  • The Twitter feed often includes links to other content found on the Organize for Action web page.

Again I ask, do you believe that tax-free Organizing for Action will advocate on direct behalf of any politician or political party?

How is Organizing for Action anything different than a tax-free branch of the Democratic Party?

How can the IRS, in good conscience, deny Tea Party groups for up to three years but approve of the President's community organizing group?  Need I remind you that the IRS is part of the Treasury Department, which itself is part of the Executive Branch headed by President Barack Obama?