Friday, April 30, 2010

Growing GDP

First quarter GDP grew by 3.2 percent. Not spectacular, but certainly very solid growth.

This is yet another sign that the economy is turned around. I'd like to see growth above 3.5 percent the rest of the year. That will ensure significant job creation and it will greatly reduce the fiscal budget deficit because it will increase tax revenue because there will be more taxable income.

Overall, another great sign that things are improving.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

BP Oil Spill in Gulf

There is a huge oil spill from one of BP's offshore oil rigs in the Gulf. Apparently it is pretty bad and it is now threatening the Louisiana coastline.

All of those "Drill Baby Drill" folks want to believe there is no risk to the environment and the tourist economies in many seaside areas. If this spill happened off the Miami coast or Ocean City, NJ or Myrtle Beach, SC, those economies would be devastated far more than any financial gain that those areas/states would receive from private oil companies.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Consumer Confidence Rising

CC hit 57.9 - they highest level since September 2008 when the financial sector crisis really exploded.

This is just another sign that things are on track. I am really looking forward to the April jobs number. If we get over 300,000 jobs it will be huge.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tea Party Anger

Anger is a necessary condition for political change. But, by itself, it is not a necessary and sufficient condition for change. Tea Party folks - who are not really much more than angry Republicans - are angry. So what?

Anger won't change the country. There has to be a legitimate plan/option to get behind for political change to happen. People don't want to vote for "the angry candidate who likes to bitch and moan." They need to understand what the plan is.

This is why the Tea Party movement is stock in neutral.

The Tea Party Express multi-city tour that Palin put her name and fame to was nothing more than a Republican scam to make some money. It just suckered a bunch of ignorant Tea Partiers into forking over their SS and welfare checks to pay for Sarah Palin's appearances. They never actually built an agenda.

Now, the other thing that is going to prevent the Tea Party anger from spreading is that the nation's economy is rapidly improving. Job creation is now taking place, GDP is rising at a brisk pace, and even real estate is showing signs of significant improvement. President Obama has accomplished HC reform and gotten most of the world's nuclear powers to agree to secure loose nukes. The Iraq war is winding down. We will have financial regulatory reform on Wall Street and possibly even a climate bill.

Immigration reform debate will likely be a political win for Democrats as they secure the growing Hispanic vote for the next 2 decades, and the Supreme Court nominee could really stir the base.

It is already a tiny, and largely inconsequential movement, but next year, there won't be a Tea Party movement at all.

Chicago Bears Draft

I thought the Bears had a great draft, given that they didn't have a 1st or 2nd round pick this year. Their 1st round pick was given up as part of the Cutler trade. Their 2nd was given up in the trade for Gaines Adams - who tragically died this offseason.

They ended up with two players who will likely play significant minutes in Florida safety Major Wright and Northwestern DE Corey Wootton. They had a bunch of value/reach picks with their other picks and they probably wasted one on QB Dan LeFevour in the 6th round. The best I see out of the LeFevour pick is if the guy can show something and they trade him for a higher future pick down the line.

I think the Bears really, really upgraded their defense this offseason. I like the rotation at end with Peppers, Wootton, and Anderson. Their D-tackles will be fine if Tommie Harris can return to form and if they get a little production from Harrison. Their linebacking corps is one of the best and deepest in the NFL with the return of Urlacher and Pisa from injuries. Their secondary is still a question mark, but I like their starting corners and hope that Wright is all he is cracked up to be. Manning will likely move to strong safety which is a much better fit for him than at FS. He can be a playmaker and he is a good tackler. While he is a great athlete, he doesn't seem to have a knack for the ball and he is constantly out of position in coverage.

The Bears will be better on D and if they make some improvement - any improvement on offense they should challenge for a playoff spot.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Obama Poll Numbers

I have to say that I am somewhat surprised that President Obama has not had a larger bounce from the improving economy and the passage of HC reform. He remains just under 50 percent in most polls.

That said, I don't think there is a structural or deep-seated fear, I think the American people just haven't personally benefited from these improvements and the Republican message machine has done a good job framing the doom and gloom as an Obama-created problem.

But as the economy continues to improve - and there is nothing to indicate GDP and job growth won't be significant throughout the rest of the year - and the HC benefits become more clear (and no grandmas are killed by phantom death panels), his poll numbers will continue to rise.

I've been dead right about the improving economy for the last year and I'm sure the poll numbers will increase as more and more Americans start to feel the improvements.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Facts about Federal Taxes

These idiots who are blaming President Obama for federal taxes don't have a clue. Several hundred billion dollars in tax cuts for the middle class came through the Stimulus, and because of it, middle class taxes have fallen to their lowest level in 50 years.

Tea Party folks seem to be mostly foolish angry people who are completely ignorant of basic facts.

"Big" Tea Party in DC Today

Couple of thousand folks - big deal!

The media will hype this up today, but there will be more people at the next Nats game - and the Nats are a horrible draw. The crowd will be comparable to a DC United soccer game.

It is pathetic how much time the media wastes on these largely ignorant folks who don't even realize that taxes have gone down since President Obama took office.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tea Party Nonsense

So 3000 people showed up today in Boston for another Tea Party event - 3000! Considering that 20,000 people show up for Boston Bruin games and Celtic games, and 30,000 show up to watch the Red Sox, 3000 is a paltry number.

I have no problem with people peaceably organizing and voicing discontent, but the whole Tea Party thing has been largely a media driven movement. It's good TV to have a bunch of weirdly dressed folks milling around and yelling crazy stuff. The fact that you have some blatatently racist folks and obviously ignorant folks sprinkled throughout the crowd makes it even funnier.

To put the Tea Party in a bit more perspective, when Bush was in office and there were protests against the Iraq War or women's reproductive rights we'd see several HUNDRED thousand people. Immigration reform advocates in DC, Atlanta, LA, Chicago, and New York were able to gather up several hundred thousand folks with little difficulty. But even the biggest Tea Party events garner only 20,000 people.

Tomorrow the Tea Party is going to have their "big" rally in DC. How many people are going to show up? 20,000? 30,000? It is going to amount to a whole lot of nothing. I hope it is 50,000 so that DC's street vendors have a good day. There will be some heated rhetoric and no real plan and then most of this small contingent of Americans will go back home and continue to just be angry.

Sarah Palin has been asking, "How's that hope-y, change-y thing working out for ya?" To answer her question - pretty good. My stocks, retirement accounts, and kids' 529 education accounts are way up over the last year. My tax percentage went down. The overall economy is on much better footing. GDP is expanding at a rapid pace and several hundred thousand jobs are being created per month. I like the health care reform because it should work to slow the exploding cost of my family's health care. President Obama got 46 nations with nuclear material to agree to prevent the spread of loose nuke material.

Frankly, I'm not really even sure what Palin doesn't like - she made $12 million over the last 9 months with her speaking engagements. She wouldn't get anywhere close to that if the economy wasn't improving.

Friday, April 09, 2010

What doe the RepubliCANT Party Stand For?

Other than being against Obama, there is no substance of ideas coming out of the GOP.

Palin gets up and winks and talks about commonsense values - but she offers nothing but hot air.

Newt Gingrich - who used to be a serious intellectual in the GOP - gave a speech yesterday in which he said he favors tax cuts, a lower deficit, fewer regulations and a sensible energy plan. Who doesn't believe that? The problem is that it doesn't magically happen.

The Republicans are like kids running for class president in 4th grade. They say stuff like, "I'm for extending recess and ending the evil practice of homework." But they don't have any actual plan for making that happen, so it is a bunch of bluster. The cool kid who runs on such a platform still may win, but the problem for Republicans is that they are not the cool kids. So they end up looking lame, angry, and stupid.

Lies of RepubliCANTs

There is some nonsense floating around that Obama and Congress exempted themselves from the health care legislation. That is ridiculous. The President and Congress get HC access through exchanges that allow them to pick a plan that works for them already. They didn't take that away - they have created a system that will allow all Americans to pick plans that work for them through exchanges that will be set up in the next couple of years.

Palin was out yesterday passing along her ignorance in her complaints about Obama's START treaty with Russia that reduces nuclear weapons. This woman is a complete idiot. Her contention that it weakens the U.S. flies in the face of what every serious foreign policy expert believes, what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs believes, what the Defense Secretary (a Republican) believes, what Henry Kissenger and George Schultz (the Secretaries of State under Nixon and Reagan) believe, etc.

The thing that is remarkable is that START treaty makes us safer without sacrificing any future development. It essentially reduces the number of nukes with Russia (there is a verification/monitoring element) which should help reduce the chances for loose nukes to get into the wrong hands. Russia reserves the right to withdraw if they do not like our development, and the President of the U.S. reserves the right to use nukes on rogue states that currently do not have nukes if so warranted (i.e., in the event of a biological attack).

In the end, Republicans in the Senate will line up behind the treaty because it is good policy. You'll see some reactionaries try to use it for political gain and call Obama naive - but serious Republicans will vote in favor because it is good policy.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Obama's Moderate Economic Policies

Republicans are trying to project President Obama as some kind of radical socialist Hell bent on destroying America.

The nationalization of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, AIG, GM, and Chrysler all happened as a result of George Bush's policies that were driven by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen. In fact, the TARP which was used to bail out the banks was Bush's doing. President Bush spent far more of the TARP, and although he could have done so, President Obama has slowed and largely stopped spending money out of the TARP. I don't hear many Republicans calling Bush a socialist.

Anyone who has looked at the Stimulus plan - which is President Obama's signature economic bill - can see that not only has it not created a socialist state, it is working and we are now seeing the creation of significant numbers of private sector jobs.

The health care bill is a very moderate proposal that takes advantage of private sector insurance. In exchange for providing private insurers millions of new customers, the reform requires insurers to provide up to 85 percent of premiums in health care reimbursements, there are restrictions on pre-existing conditions, firms cannot drop customers arbitrarily, and there will no longer be lifetime or yearly caps on the amount of benefits. In addition, the health care exchanges are just going to be private insurance exchanges that give consumers options for the best price. There are no death panels killing Grandma or public health care that would force people to switch from their private plans.

If the health care bill or Stimulus was such a killer of the private sector, we would not see the explosive gains we have seen in the Stock Market. The big money folks recognize how good the policies are, which is why they are again investing.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Here Come the Jobs

162,000 jobs added last month - but most encouraging was the fact that only about 48,000 are temporary Census jobs.

That means that 123,000 private sector jobs were added. It was the most private sector jobs created since May 2007, and the most overall since March 2007 - 3 years!

There were upward revisions in the January and February jobs numbers and given the figures, we have a real shot at seeing first quarter GDP come in at about 4 percent. I think we will see it come in around 3.5 percent, but given all that is happening the second half of this year looks like we are going to have strong economic growth.

The market clearly liked the health care bill. Private sector investment is exploding as demonstrated by the bull stock market. Jobs are being created. The economy is going to show strong growth for this past quarter. All of this is exactly the opposite of how things were going when President Obama took office.

By November, Americans are going to be feeling the real gains that we are starting to see and the Republicans will be sitting around wondering what happened when they get wiped out in the mid-terms. This is exactly what I have been saying since last year. People can go back and look at my posts in February and March 2009 when the Stimulus was passed and President Obama was putting in his economic policies.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Offshore Drilling

President Obama is trying to peel off Republican support for his energy policies. Yesterday he opened up some offshore drilling.

It really is no big deal. We could open up all the coastlines for drilling, but not much would change. Aside from the fact that it would take years to actually produce any oil, the reality is that we don't have a supply problem, we don't have enough refineries. On top of that oil is a global commodity that is sold on the world market. Much of our domestic production is sold to overseas market. Big Oil is not going to produce oil simply for domestic consumption - they are multinational corporations beholden to shareholders, not the U.S. people.

Big Oil will do what is best for their financial interests, not what is best for American consumers.