President Obama has repeatedly stressed that the problem in Washington is a Congress, not his administration, that is unable to act effectively on national problems. He has pointed the finger at Republicans and emphasized that lack of legislation is the result of partisanship. He has repeatedly seen his annual budget proposals declared “dead on arrival” in the Congress.
The District of Columbia got headlines yesterday with a proposal that everyone be "entitled to 16 weeks of paid family leave to bond with an infant or an adopted child, recover from an illness, recuperate from a military deployment or tend to an ill family member. The broad new worker benefit, enthusiastically supported by the Obama administration, would be paid from a fund created by a new tax on D.C. employers.”
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has informed the Congress that the federal debt limit needs to be increased by November. The Treasury timetable is driven by its use of “extraordinary measures” to keep the debt under the current limit of $18.1 trillion. However, as I argue (here) there are sound economic reasons to raise the debt limit in a timely fashion.
Most observers agree that time is short to conclude negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Elections are looming in Canada and once the calendar flips to 2016 there is little optimism that the U.S. Congress will choose to engage in another trade debate on the heels of the vote for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
It is that time of month again; this morning the Labor Department will release the payroll report for September. There is no reason to expect any real drama or change.
Whew. No government shutdown. The Senate passed a funding bill yesterday morning, the House imposed “martial law” and sent it to the president’s desk later in the day. Now comes the hard part.
Years ago, as a professor at the Syracuse University I decided to teach a course entitled “Economics in the Media” in the Newhouse School of Communications. The idea was spawned by the realization that I might do more social good by producing a single economically literate journalist than 20 economics majors a year. I promise you that this author did not take my class.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump unveiled his tax plan yesterday. I will leave for another occasion a full evaluation of the plan, but one plank raises an important issue in tax policy. The plan includes the provision "If you are single and earn less than $25,000, or married and jointly earn less than $50,000, you will not owe any income tax. That removes nearly 75 million households – over 50% – from the income tax rolls. They get a new one page form to send the IRS saying, “I win,” those who would otherwise owe income taxes will save an average of nearly $1,000 each.”
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continues its crusade for organized labor. As reported by the Washington Examiner, "The board is considering designating companies that use temp agencies to be 'joint employers' of the agencies' workers. In effect, a corporation that hires an agency for a short-term project could find itself permanently responsible for the latter's workers if they unionize.”
By the numbers, the Obama recovery has been a disappointment. Inflation-adjusted Gross Domestic Product has grown at an average annual rate of only 2.1 percent (George W. Bush’s recovery averaged 2.4 percent until the Great Recession hit; Ronald Reagan averaged a whopping 4.3 percent).