Nancy Pelosi is facing accusations of cronyism after a solar energy project, which her brother-in-law has a stake in, landed a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, despite the growing Solyndra scandal.
The massive loan agreement is raising new concerns about the use of taxpayers’ money as vast sums are invested in technology similar to that of the doomed energy project.
The investment has intensified the debate over the effectiveness of solar energy as a major power source.
The SolarReserve project is backed by an energy investment fund where the Minority Leader’s brother-in-law Ronald Pelosi is second in command.
PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC is listed as one of the investors in the project that has been given the staggering loan, which even dwarfs that given to failed company Solyndra.
Other investors include one of the major investors in Solyndra, which is run by one of the directors of Solyndra.
Steve Mitchell, who served on the board of directors at the bankrupt energy company, is also managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, which has invested in the latest project.
Since Solyndra has filed for bankruptcy has been asked to testify about the goings on at the firm by two members of the House and ‘asked to provide documents to Congress’.
[…]The project approval came as part of $1 billion in new loans to green energy companies yesterday.
Did they learn anything from Solyndra? No:
‘The administration’s flagship project Solyndra is bankrupt and being investigated by the FBI, the promised jobs never materialised, and now the Department of Energy is preparing to rush out nearly $5 billion in loans in the final 48 hours before stimulus funds expire — that’s nearly $105 million every hour that must be finalised until the deadline,’ said Florida representative Cliff Stearns, who is chairman of the investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Since Nancy Pelosi took over federal spending in January 2007, the national debt has increased from $8.5 trillion to about $17.5 trillion. That’s NINE TRILLION dollars in new spending. And much of it just handed off to the people and groups who got the Democrats elected 2008 and 2012.
Have you heard much about President Obama’s $787,000,000,000 economic “stimulus” (now estimated to cost $831,000,000,000) lately? In its last report, published in 2011, the president’s own Council of Economic Advisors released an estimate showing that, for every $317,000 in “stimulus” spending that had by then gone out the door, only one job had been created or saved. Even in Washington, that’s not considered good bang for the buck.
Moreover, that was the fifth consecutive “stimulus” report that showed this number getting progressively worse.
Alas, that was the last report we’ve seen. Never mind that Section 1513 of the “stimulus” legislation, which Obama spearheaded and signed into law, requires the executive branch to submit a new report every three months. It reads:
“In consultation with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the Secretary of the Treasury, the Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers shall submit quarterly reports to the Committees on Appropriations of the Senate and House of Representatives that detail the impact of programs funded through covered funds on employment, estimated economic growth, and other key economic indicators.”
[…]By now, [the Obama administration] was supposed to have released fourteen such reports. It has released only eight. The last one covered the period ending in June 2011. That’s right — 2011.
With only 58.6 percent of Americans currently employed — down 2.4 percent from the time of Obama’s first inauguration — it’s not surprising that the Obama administration doesn’t really want to fulfill it legal responsibilities and release subsequent reports on its failed “stimulus.” However, it hardly seems fair — to use one of Obama’s favorite words — that the rich and (extremely) powerful think that they can choose whether or not to abide by the laws they spearhead and sign, while the rest of us are forced to obey them.
The Obama administration has pursued an economic policy of raising taxes on job creators, imposing regulatory burdens on businesses and shoveling mountains of taxpayer money into the hands of green energy firms which are often linked to Democrat fundraisers. Does it work to create jobs? Let’s see.
Amid disappointing unemployment numbers that fell 80,000 jobs short of projections, another number is raising eyebrows: the number of Americans not in the labor force has hit a record high 87,897,000.
This figure explains why overall unemployment dropped from 8.3% to 8.2%, as the Department of Labor’s unemployment figure does not include people who have given up hope and are not actively seeking employment.
When the number of individuals who have stopped looking for a job and/or who are working part-time but desire full-time employment is included–a figure known as the “underemployment rate”–real unemployment stands at 19.1%.
If you want to know if the President is doing a good job of creating jobs, just count the number of people who are unemployed. If the number of people who are unemployed is at a RECORD HIGH, then you need to elect a new President. Preferably someone who understands basic economics.
Recall that back in 2009, White House economists Jared Bernstein and Christina Romer used their old-fashioned Keynesian model to predict how the $800 billion stimulus would affect employment. According to their model—as displayed in the above chart, updated—unemployment should be around 5.8% today.
But the true measure of U.S. unemployment is far worse:
1. If the size of the U.S. labor force as a share of the total population was the same as it was when Barack Obama took office—65.7% then vs. 63.8% today down from last month—the U-3 unemployment rate would be 10.9%.
2. But what if you take into the account the aging of the Baby Boomers, which means the labor force participation (LFP) rate should be trending lower. Indeed, it has been doing just that since 2000. Before the Great Recession, the Congressional Budget Office predicted what the LFP would be in 2012, assuming such demographic changes. Using that number, the real unemployment rate would be 10.5%.
3. Of course, the LFP rate usually falls during recessions. Yet even if you discount for that and the aging issue, the real unemployment rate would be 9.4%.
4. Then there’s the broader, U-6 measure of unemployment which includes the discouraged plus part-timers who wish they had full time work. That unemployment rate, perhaps the truest measure of the labor market’s health, is still a sky-high 14.5%.
5. The employment-population ratio dipped to 58.5% vs. 61% in December 2008. An historically low level of the U.S. population is actually working.
People keep talking about intelligent Barack Obama is. But shouldn’t we judge a person’s intelligence based on what they can produce? If you measure Obama’s intelligence based on his results – adding trillions and trillions of dollars to the debt while lowering the number of people who have jobs to a record low – then a fair-minded observer would say that Barack Obama is a person of low intelligence. He simply is out of his league. He would be out of his league if he tried to run a lemonade stand. If no one – Republican or Democrat – would hire this man to work in a private business that they owned, why would we ever elect him to be President?
Recall the original Obama economic team. It consisted of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and White House economists Lawrence Summers, Christina Romer, Austan Goolsbee, and Jared Bernstein. It was the Democrats’ Best and Brightest—but not one with a smidgen of executive experience in either the private or public sector. And into their hands was entrusted an $800 billion stimulus spending plan, a package whose details were fleshed out by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. What could go wrong?
Lots, it turns out. And Michael Grabell, a reporter for ProPublica, documents the many failings of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in “Money Well Spent? The Truth Behind the Trillion-Dollar Stimulus, the Biggest Economic Recovery Plan in History,” out this week. Rather than focus on questionable Keynesian economics behind the stimulus, Grabell focuses on its execution and management.
In reporting on the stimulus over three years, I traveled to 15 states, interviewed hundreds of people and read through tens of thousands of government documents and project reports. What I found is that the stimulus failed to live up to its promise not because it was too small (as those on the left argue) or because Keynesian economics is obsolete (as those on the right argue), but because it was poorly designed. Even advocates for a bigger stimulus need to acknowledge that their argument is really one about design and presentation.
Take the tax cut piece of the plan. Inspired by new research in behavioral economics, Team Obama constructed the $116 billion tax credit so it was “dribbled” out in paychecks at about $10 a week. Grabell:
Perhaps that would have worked if the tax cut had been substantial. But spread out in tiny increments, it did little to overcome the prevailing fear of losing a job, a home and years of retirement savings. Not only did Obama lose the political credit but also the consumer excitement that a large check would have provided.
Or how about the infrastructure spending. Grabell says it was beset by regulatory obstruction and union pandering:
The timing of the stimulus was poor to bring about the flood of construction projects everyone expected in the first year. States had to advertise the project to allow contractors to submit bids. They needed to review those bids and sign the contracts. Then, they had to go back to the U.S. Department of Transportation for the final OK. ..
Some projects in public housing, waterworks and home insulation remained paralyzed for six months to a year as short-staffed agencies reviewed Buy American waiver requests and calculated prevailing wages for weatherization work in every county in America.
In Michigan, human services officials estimated that 90% of the homes in line for weatherization work would need a historic preservation review. But as of late fall 2009, the office responsible had only two employees.
Public transit advocates expected a windfall for bus companies like New Flyer in St. Cloud, Minn. But the transit money took longer to get out the door because every grant had to be reviewed by the Labor Department to ensure that it wouldn’t have a negative impact on transit unions.
In short, Big Government screwed up the Big Spend. Biden said the stimulus would “literally drop kick us out of the recession.” But Grabell concludes that “the stimulus ultimately failed to do what America expected it to do — bring about a strong, sustainable recovery. The drop kick was shanked.”
Typically, I try to tie the beginning of Wonkbook to the news. But today, the most important sentence isn’t a report on something that just happened, but a fresh look at something that’s been happening for the last three years. In particular, it’s this sentence by the Financial Times’ Ed Luce, who writes, “According to government statistics, if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.”
Remember that the unemployment rate is not “how many people don’t have jobs?”, but “how many people don’t have jobs and are actively looking for them?” Let’s say you’ve been looking fruitlessly for five months and realize you’ve exhausted every job listing in your area. Discouraged, you stop looking, at least for the moment. According to the government, you’re no longer unemployed. Congratulations?
Since 2007, the percent of the population that either has a job or is actively looking for one has fallen from 62.7 percent to 58.5 percent. That’s millions of workers leaving the workforce, and it’s not because they’ve become sick or old or infirm. It’s because they can’t find a job, and so they’ve stopped trying. That’s where Luce’s calculation comes from. If 62.7 percent of the country was still counted as in the workforce, unemployment would be 11 percent. In that sense, the real unemployment rate — the apples-to-apples unemployment rate — is probably 11 percent. And the real un- and underemployed rate — the so-called “U6″ — is near 20 percent.
There were some celebrations when the unemployment rate dropped last month. But much of that drop was people leaving the labor force. The surprising truth is that when the labor market really recovers, the unemployment rate will actually rise, albeit only temporarily, as discouraged workers start searching for jobs again.
Yeah, because taking money away from private sector job creators costs jobs. That is straight out of Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson”: Public Works Means Taxes.
When the Obama administration releases a report on the Friday before a long weekend, it’s clearly not trying to draw attention to the report’s contents. Sure enough, the “Seventh Quarterly Report” on the economic impact of the “stimulus,” released on Friday, July 1, provides further evidence that President Obama’s economic “stimulus” did very little, if anything, to stimulate the economy, and a whole lot to stimulate the debt.
The report was written by the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors, a group of three economists who were all handpicked by Obama, and it chronicles the alleged success of the “stimulus” in adding or saving jobs. The council reports that, using “mainstream estimates of economic multipliers for the effects of fiscal stimulus” (which it describes as a “natural way to estimate the effects of” the legislation), the “stimulus” has added or saved just under 2.4 million jobs — whether private or public — at a cost (to date) of $666 billion. That’s a cost to taxpayers of $278,000 per job.
In other words, the government could simply have cut a $100,000 check to everyone whose employment was allegedly made possible by the “stimulus,” and taxpayers would have come out $427 billion ahead.
When the government takes a dollar from a job creator, they take half of it for themselves, and then they often give the other half to some favored group, like a “green energy” company or Planned parenthood or a labor union. Then they who turns around and give half of that handout right back to Obama as a campaign donation. The only way to stop them from doing more of this stimulus is to stop giving them money.
Consider this article by the Cato Institute, which discusses how the Reagan tax cuts affected the unemployment rate.
In 1980, President Carter and his supporters in the Congress and news media asked, “how can we afford” presidential candidate Ronald Reagan’s proposed tax cuts?
Mr. Reagan’s critics claimed the tax cuts would lead to more inflation and higher interest rates, while Mr. Reagan said tax cuts would lead to more economic growth and higher living standards. What happened? Inflation fell from 12.5 percent in 1980 to 3.9 percent in 1984, interest rates fell, and economic growth went from minus 0.2 percent in 1980 to plus 7.3 percent in 1984, and Mr. Reagan was re-elected in a landslide.
[…]Despite the fact that federal revenues have varied little (as a percentage of GDP) over the last 40 years, there has been an enormous variation in top tax rates. When Ronald Reagan took office, the top individual tax rate was 70 percent and by 1986 it was down to only 28 percent. All Americans received at least a 30 percent tax rate cut; yet federal tax revenues as a percent of GDP were almost unchanged during the Reagan presidency (from 18.9 percent in 1980 to 18.1 percent in 1988).
What did change, however, was the rate of economic growth, which was more than 50 percent higher for the seven years after the Reagan tax cuts compared with the previous seven years. This increase in economic growth, plus some reductions in tax credits and deductions, almost entirely offset the effect of the rate reductions. Rapid economic growth, unlike government spending programs, proved to be the most effective way to reduce unemployment and poverty, and create opportunity for the disadvantaged.
President Bush signed the first wave of tax cuts in 2001, cutting rates and providing tax relief for families by, for example, doubling of the child tax credit to $1,000.
At Congress’ insistence, the tax relief was initially phased in over many years, so the economy continued to lose jobs. In 2003, realizing its error, Congress made the earlier tax relief effective immediately. Congress also lowered tax rates on capital gains and dividends to encourage business investment, which had been lagging.
It was the then that the economy turned around. Within months of enactment, job growth shot up, eventually creating 8.1 million jobs through 2007. Tax revenues also increased after the Bush tax cuts, due to economic growth.
In 2003, capital gains tax rates were reduced. Rather than expand by 36% as the Congressional Budget Office projected before the tax cut, capital gains revenues more than doubled to $103 billion.
The CBO incorrectly calculated that the post-March 2003 tax cuts would lower 2006 revenues by $75 billion. Revenues for 2006 came in $47 billion above the pre-tax cut baseline.
Here’s what else happened after the 2003 tax cuts lowered the rates on income, capital gains and dividend taxes:
GDP grew at an annual rate of just 1.7% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the six quarters following the tax cuts, the growth rate was 4.1%.
The S&P 500 dropped 18% in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts but increased by 32% over the next six quarters.
The economy lost 267,000 jobs in the six quarters before the 2003 tax cuts. In the next six quarters, it added 307,000 jobs, followed by 5 million jobs in the next seven quarters.
The timing of the lower tax rates coincides almost exactly with the stark acceleration in the economy. Nor was this experience unique. The famous Clinton economic boom began when Congress passed legislation cutting spending and cutting the capital gains tax rate.
It worked for Reagan and it worked for Bush – they made unemployment go down, while Obama’s public works spending has made unemployment go up. Those are the facts. And we have to live in the world as it is. We may not like it, it may not be intuitive to us, it may not line up with our feelings, but that is the way the world is. When you let people with capital keep more of the money they earn, they hire more people and they try to make more money. When the rich risk their capital, they take the rest of us up with them – either by giving us jobs, or by offering us things that we are free to buy or not. Things like iPods, laptops and kitchen appliances. And the more competition there is among sellers in a free market, the lower the prices go, and the higher the quality gets.