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The public policy blog of the American Enterprise Institute
Friday, September 7th
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16:35 From Politico, here’s a video of Obama’s top 15 lines from his speech last night:
15:58 Cardinal Timothy Dolan, a major figure in the Catholic Church and a leading social conservative, prayed for the “unborn” during the final benediction during the Democratic convention. He cited the question of “life, without which no other rights are secured.”
The line was at odds with the rest of the convention, which was dominated by commitments to abortion rights.
15:41 Here is some video of Fox News host Gregg Jerrett grilling Romney adviser Lanhee Chen over the Republican candidate’s lack of specificity when it comes to his tax reform plan.
For what it’s worth, I saw Mr. Chen speak during a panel discussion in Tampa Florida, and found him to be very intelligent and capable.
As for Romney’s refusal to discuss specific cuts, I think it makes good sense. He can’t know for sure which specific deductions Congress will let him get rid of, and he knows that any specifics he gives will be attacked by his political opponents during the election. And if he fails to cut exactly the deductions he specified, he will get attacked for not fulfilling his promises. Far better to stay quiet, especially when his opponent doesn’t have a clear plan, either.
15:20 President Obama has experienced a strong bounce in his approval rating during the course of the Democratic convention, according to Gallup. The president’s job approval today stands at 52%, higher than it has been since June, while his disapproval number has declined to 43%:
Meanwhile, in a head-to-head matchup with Mitt Romney, the president leads 48-45. This is pretty consistent with how the race has looked since at least May:
Bottom line? We’ll need to see some more polling data before we can definitively say what sort of bounce Obama got from the convention. But so far, signs look good for the president.
14:45 CNS News reports that the unemployment rate for government wage and salaries workers dropped from 5.7% in July to 5.1% in August.
The BLS counts someone as a government wage and salary worker if they are not in the military and they are currently employed by any level of government, or if they are unemployed, looking for work, and their last job was for any level of government.
The 5.1% unemployment rate for government workers was the lowest rate for any of the 17 different categories and subcategories which the Department of Labor tracks on a monthly basis.
But hey, remember: The private sector is doing fine; the weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government.
14:17 Ezra Klein over at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog has
five six great charts helping bring additional context to today’s jobs report. I’ll reproduce four of them here for you.
First, the six different ways to measure unemployment. As you can see, they’ve all tracked together pretty closely.
Second, a chart showing employment by sector. Question: Shouldn’t construction have seen a massive increase during 2009, when the stimulus was supposed to be creating “shovel-ready jobs?”
Third, a chart showing wage growth. As you can see, it’s not so good.
And fourth, a chart showing the labor force participation rate. It’s been steadily declining since Obama took office.
13:58 Two charts from Business Insider that show the monthly change in employment by sector and the difference between the manufacturing and non-manufacturing ISM.
13:38 Clint Eastwood has broken his silence after his controversial speech (performance?) at the RNC last week by giving an interview to the Carmel Pine Cone. The big quote:
President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.
Ouch! That’s a pretty intense thing to say. Some other takeaways:
He had three points he wanted to make:
11:40 MSNBC is happy about today’s jobs report, declaring it “Good news for the President.” Really, guys? I know you have an agenda, but… really? 368,000 Americans left the labor force, and 96,000 jobs were created. Good news?
11:22 Darren Samuelsohn of Politico lists the big things missing from Obama’s speech last night:
Health care: Beyond discussing “a little girl with a heart disorder in Pheonix” who was able to get insurance, Obama didn’t mention the health care law, despite the fact that he’s been embracing “Obamacare” on the stump lately.
Stimulus: While the economy was talked about a lot, the words stimulus or “American Recovery Act” where nowhere to be heard.
Housing: Obama dedicated just a single sentence to his efforts to stop predatory lending practices.
Voter ID laws: This one surprises me the most, because this was an opportune time to bring them up before a large national audience. Obama didn’t mention them at all.
10:48 According to the following chart, Obama is on track to lose the 2012 campaign. All the economic numbers predict that the president will lose. Of course, the polls show him slightly ahead. So one of two things is happening: 1) President Obama is defying all the rules of political science, or 2) The polls are not reflective of what the eventual outcome will be.
10:26 MSN reports that Obama’s acceptance speech broke the record for tweets per minute, peaking at 52,757. The most popular line, re-tweeted more than 43,000 times, was “I’m no longer just a candidate, I’m the president.”
“No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money,” was also a much-quoted line, with 18,000 re-tweets.
The speech raised total DNC-related tweets to more than 9 million, more than double that of the GOP convention.
10:15 Mitt Romney panned today’s jobs report, calling it the “hangover” after the “party” of the Democratic Convention. Here’s the full statement:
If last night was the party, this morning is the hangover. For every net new job created, nearly four Americans gave up looking for work entirely. This is more of the same for middle class families who are suffering through the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression. After 43 straight months of unemployment above 8%, it is clear that President Obama just hasn’t lived up to his promises and his policies haven’t worked. We aren’t better off than they were four years ago. My plan for a stronger middle class will create 12 million new jobs by the end of my first term. America deserves new leadership that will get our economy moving again.
9:30 Here are the 10 lines which received the loudest and most sustained applause from President Obama’s speech last night:
10. “When you take off the uniform, we will serve you as well as you’ve served us – because no one who fights for this country should have to fight for a job, or a roof over their head, or the care that they need when they come home.” (14 seconds)
9. “After two wars that have cost us thousands of lives and over a trillion dollars, it’s time to do some nation-building right here at home.” (14 seconds)
8. “I’ve signed trade agreements that are helping our companies sell more goods to millions of new customers — goods that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.” (14.7 seconds)
7. “We don’t think that government is the source of all our problems, any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.” (15 seconds)
6. “You can do something about [climate change].” (17.2 seconds)
5. “I’m no longer just a candidate. I’m the President.” (20 seconds)
4. “A new tower rises above the New York skyline, al-Qaida is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead.” (21.5 seconds)
3. [Quoting the Republicans’ “prescription” for the economy.] “‘Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning!'” (22.7 seconds)
2. “That’s what we can do in the next four years, and that’s why I’m running for a second term as President of the United States.” (22.8 seconds)
1. “I accept your nomination for President of the United States.” (27.5 seconds)
9:23 The Labor Department announced today that U.S. employers added a lackluster 96,000 jobs in August. The unemployment rate fell from 8.3% to 8.1%, but only because more people gave up looking for work. The government also said 41,000 fewer jobs were created in June and July than previously estimated. This means the economy has added just 139,000 jobs a month since the beginning of the year. In 2011, average monthly job creation was 153,000.
The proportion of the population that is either working or looking for work fell to 63.5%, the lowest level in 31 years. Most of the jobs gained were in low-paying industries such as retail and leisure industries. High-paying manufacturing jobs fell by 15,000.
This continued weakness puts a damper in the president’s narrative that we are slowly but surely moving forward towards recovery.
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