Bankrupting America’s Spending Daily

| May 3 2013

Spending Daily | May 3, 2013

US Economy Adds 165,000 jobs in April

Market Watch reports, “The U.S. created a net 165,000 jobs in April, the Labor Department said Friday. The increase surpassed the 135,000 forecast of economists polled by MarketWatch. What’s more, the economy created an additional 124,000 jobs in March and February than previously reported. The number of new jobs created in March was revised up to 138,000 from 88,000, the Labor Department said, while February’s figure was revised up to 332,000 from 268,000. The number of jobs created in February was the highest since November 2005 for any month that did not include temporary Census bureau hiring. The acceleration in hiring nudged the unemployment rate down to 7.5% from 7.6% in March. That’s the lowest level since December 2008, the month before President Obama took office. The unemployment rate fell even though the size of the labor force increased, which is a good sign. People enter the labor force when they think there’s a better chance of finding work.”

 

Taxpayer Money Goes Down The Drain

The Washington Guardian reports, “The Senate is debating a bill that would allow the Army Corps of Engineers to construct a wide range of water projects with little Congressional oversight, in effect giving the Corps carte blanche to spend on projects of its own choosing.  All at a cost of $12.5 billion over the next ten years. The bill, known as the Water Resources Development Act of 2013, was sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).  Its purpose is ‘to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States, and for other purposes.’ … Sec. 1002 of the bill states that the only requirements to fund a project are that 1) the Corps has completed an evaluation of the potential project and 2) a report has been filled notifying Congress.  That leaves a lot of room for the Corps todecide which projects are worthwhile and how much they get — a far cry from the days when Congress specified the projects and how much was to be spent on each. … The amount of money involved is not small.  A report by the Congressional Budget Office, which does nonpartisan economic research for lawmakers, estimated the cost of the billcould be as high as $12.5 billion over the next ten years.”

 

Special Ops In Sequester Cuts Cross Fire

The Hill reports, “U.S. Special Operations Command chief Adm. William McRaven warned Thursday that special operations forces are at risk of being hit by the budget cuts under sequestration. While the special operations budget is set to grow in the Pentagon’s current spending request, McRaven said that if the sequester is not averted, it’s only a matter of time before the cuts will be felt and his forces will be ‘taxed’ by sequestration. ‘Make no mistake about it, the budget will affect us either directly or, as it affects the services, it will effect us,’ McRaven said at a forum hosted by the Wilson Center. … But the Pentagon has prioritized the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) — and its budget — as special operations forces have played a key role in Iraq and Afghanistan and the increasingly splintered fight against al Qaeda.”

 

Employees Unsure Of When Furlough Days Will Hit

The Washington Post reports, “The first major round of federal sequester furloughs kicked in more than a week ago, with each agency handling the issue differently — a few have already placed employees on unpaid leave, some have no plans to do so, and others still aren’t sure. At this point, only a small portion of federal agencies have furloughed employees, but more have made plans to do so in the coming weeks and months. Let’s take a look at where things stand. In perhaps the biggest furlough news this week, President Obama signed a bill authorizing the Federal Aviation Administration to avoid furloughs by transferring funds between accounts. That was about 10 days after the agency began placing some of its air-traffic controllers on unpaid leave, meaning the sequester hit some workers despite the legislation. The furlough period for U.S. Park Police began on April 21, with employees for that agency expected to take eight hours of unpaid leave every other week. At the White House budget office, where workers face an estimated10 furlough days,unpaid leave began on April 22. All employees subject to furloughs took at least one day off between April 22 and April 29, the agency said.”

 

Obama Nominates Pritzker, Froman For Top Spots On His Economic Team

The Associated Press reports, “ President Barack Obama on Thursday chose two old friends with corporate executive experience for top posts on his economic team, naming longtime fundraiser Penny Pritzker as Commerce secretary and adviser Michael Froman as U.S. Trade Representative. Pritzker, a Hyatt hotel heiress, businesswoman and philanthropist, is Obama’s pick tofill a Cabinet post that has been vacant since former Secretary John Bryson resigned last summer, after he said he suffered a seizure that led to a series of traffic collisions. Froman is one of Obama’s law school classmates and senior economic advisers who previously worked as an executive at Citigroup. The Cabinet-level trade representative performs as the administration’s top adviser and negotiator on international trade. If confirmed by the Senate, Froman would replace Ron Kirk, a former Dallas mayor who stepped down as trade representative in February after serving in the post throughout Obama’s first term.”

 

Despite Budget Cuts, DOD Buys ‘Green’ Jet Fuel At $59 A Gallon

The Washington Examiner reports, “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently warned that sequestration would cause ‘suspension of important activities, curtailed training, and could result in furloughs of civilian personnel’ but the spending cuts haven’t killed the green fuels program, as the Pentagon has continued purchasing renewable fuel at $59 per gallon. … Conventional JP-8 jet fuel costs $3.73 a gallon, according to the Defense Logistics Agency.”

 

Liberal Groups Plan Revolt Against Democratic Backers Of Chained CPI

McClatchy News reports, “Liberal groups angered by President Barack Obama’s proposed Social Security cuts say they’ll take a page from conservatives’ campaign playbook and work to oust Democratic lawmakers who go along with the plan. The revolt within Obama’s political base and a related divide in his party may complicate the president’s mission when Congress returns to Washington next week to settle the budget and meet a looming deadline, May 18, for raising the federal debt ceiling. As part of his budget plan now before Congress, Obama wants to slow the inflation calculator for Social Security benefits and payments to some military veterans, their survivors and college students. He’s also asking affluent Americans to pay higher Medicare premiums. The biggest impact would be on the country’s 57 million Social Security recipients, the beneficiaries of a New Deal program that Democratic icon Franklin D. Roosevelt launched during his Depression-era presidency. … The liberal activists’ strategy of targeting recalcitrant Democrats mirrors the tactics of anti-spending groups such as the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth, which in recent years have financed the primary foes of incumbent Republican lawmakers they thought were too weak on slashing government programs.”

 

President’s Big Plans For Commerce Department Fail To Materialize

POLITICO reports, “Last January, President Barack Obama laid out a sweeping plan in an East Room ceremony to eliminate the Commerce Department and replace it with a more agile agency to lead on commerce and trade issues. A week before the election last November, he went further, calling for a ‘Secretary of Business’ to lead a ‘one-stop shop’ that would help companies get loans and deal with trade issues. On Thursday, Obama nominated Penny Pritzker to be his new commerce secretary, hoping his 2008 campaign’s finance chairwoman will be confirmed for the job he has left open for nearly a year. Though there’s nothing unusual about a president putting a longtime friend and political ally at commerce, Obama’s far from delivering on those big promises of rethinking and revamping an agency that’s key to the still-struggling economy. … Critics say the president has, throughout his time in office, showed a lack of interest in trade and commerce issues. After unsuccessful nomination attempts, he went through two withdrawn and two confirmed commerce secretaries during his first term and has been without one since John Bryson stepped down amid health problems almost a year ago. Though three trade agreements have gone into effect since Obama took office, Republicans note all were negotiated while George W. Bush was president.”

 

“Is Obama A Lame Duck Already?”

Peggy Noonan writes for The Wall Street Journal, “I think we’re all agreed the president is fading—failing to lead, to break through, to show he’s not at the mercy of events but, to some degree at least, in command of them. He couldn’t get a win on gun control with 90% public support. When he speaks on immigration reform you get the sense he’s setting it back. He’s floundering on Syria. The looming crisis on implementation of ObamaCare has begun to fill the news. Even his allies are using the term ‘train wreck.’ ObamaCare is not only the most slovenly written major law in modern American history, it is full of sneaked-in surprises people are just discovering. … The president has about a month to gather himself together on the budget, tax reform and an immigration deal before Congress goes into recess. What are the odds? … The president seems incapable of changing anything, even in a crisis. He’s been scored as passive and petulant, but it’s the kind of passivity people fall into when nothing works. ‘People do what they know how to do,’ a hardened old pol once said, meaning politicians use whatever talent they have, and when it no longer works they continue using it.”

 

Time Is Running Out For States Still On The Fence About Medicaid Expansion

The Washington Post reports, “In the closing days of their legislative sessions, lawmakers in more than a dozen states are struggling with whether to expand Medicaid under the federal health-care law, with many of them leaning against participating in a program that is key to President Obama’s aim of extending coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the expansion, and 14 are planning to decline. But 16 remain in limbo as lawmakers clash in the final days and weeks of the legislative calendar, when many must come to a decision in time for the provision to kick in next year. The uncertainty comes at a moment of intense scrutiny of the way the administration has handled the rollout of the health-care law, with states at vastly different stages of implementation and the public confused about how the law will work. Obama offered reassurances this week, saying that ‘what we’re doing is making sure that every single day we are constantly trying to hit our marks so that it will be in place.’ … More than half have decided not to set up the online marketplaces meant to help people find insurance and financial assistance, leaving the enormous task to the federal government. Many states are also wary of the expense of adopting the law’s enlargement of the pool of people eligible for Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, even though the federal government will pay the full cost of the new enrollees for three years and the bulk of the cost thereafter.”

 

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