Budget Deficit Shrinking, Still

Surprise, we had a $113B surplus in April. This year’s deficit is $240B less at this time than it was at the same time last year. Thankfully, the first benefit of this is that the debt ceiling and the next no-holds-barred Thunderdome death match between POTUS and the GOP Congress is delayed, a tad.

And yes, some of this is expected because of April tax income:

There is usually a surplus in April because that is when the government receives an influx of annual tax payments. But tax receipts this April are 28 percent higher than in April 2012. And the surplus is nearly twice as high.

Again, the good side of this is more revenue coming in (about 16% more), so the increase in tax rates and apparently more commerce happening out there, is salutary. On the other side, the sequester and cuts in government spending have been counter productive. If the Congress had passed any of the WH proposals for jobs, infrastructure, etc. we might be in even better shape with income, offsetting the cost of such stimulus. 

Our still too high 7.5% unemployment would be around 6.5% if not for all the public employee jobs shed by states. A true Keynesian response to the downturn would have, at the very least, dictated more aid to the states so those jobs would have been retained. That’s the difference between this recession and every other recession in our lifetimes – the GOP austerity obsession in the states.

Spending has declined 1 percent in the first seven months of the budget year. Defense spending has fallen $18 billion, or 5 percent. Spending on unemployment benefits has dropped $14 billion, or 21 percent. The Treasury Department has also recalculated the cost of its bank bailout program, as more of those funds have been repaid. That’s lowered the cost of that program by $50 billion this year.

Things still ain’t good for most of us.  The working class is still treading water in unpredictable seas. But it could be worse too. Maybe the new normal is less boom and bust, more slow and steady wins the race.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs – Not Bad. Up 165,000 in April

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So overall unemployment rate down to 7.5.  Of course it represents the private sector up 176,000 and the public sector down 11,000 because we just don’t need so many cops, firemen and teachers.  Also, February revised up from 268,000 jobs to 332,000, making it the single best month for job creation since 2005 (excluding temporary Census hiring). March was also revised up, from 88,000 to 138,000. So the previous two months added an additional 114,000 jobs we didn’t previously know about.

Interesting – women got most of the new jobs.  Their unemployment fell from 7.0 to 6.7, while male rose 6.9 to 7.1. Women got 117K of the 165K jobs in payroll survey.

Imagine if the public employees kept their jobs and Congress, you know, helped a little. But we can’t live in a fantasy world.

Sequester May Cost MORE?

Actually, given that this comes from Congress, and was never actually expected to come to fruition, would it surprise anybody that it totally doesn’t even achieve what it was intended to do? I thought not.

Besides the fact that putting us back into a recession would put the economy in reverse, specifically with regard to the military sequester, if nearly 800,000 military personnel are put on furlough, and they do jobs that are indeed important, those jobs will get done by… CONTRACTORS. Less efficient, inflexible, nonreviewable, nonanswerable to the people fucking contractors. So there’s that.

Maybe that’s why the GOP is cool with swallowing this poison pill and declaring it nummy and nutritious.

Oy! 

Boehner and GOP have given up trying

The GOP would lose more popularity every time Boehner speaks if they hadn’t already hit bottom. Now that may seem like a glib line, but I mean it. Polls are showing that the POTUS is absolutely beating the GOP in the PR war over sequester, as he has on each of these silly issues, as he did in the ELECTION. And yet they persist in their ridiculous, ill conceived and factually flimsy attempt to make people think that our latest manufactured budget crisis is everybody’s fault but theirs.

Boehner, with another layer of tan from his vacation golf, continues to flat out mislead by claiming the ball is in the Senate’s court because of budgets the last Congress passed (they expired, so um, NO!). Or claim the POTUS is somehow to blame for everything because he’s taking his arguments to the people around the country. It’s easy to say Boehner and his GOP minions are not fooling anybody, but they are – the same minimal information minority they’ve been talking to almost exclusively since Mitt Romney admitted in Boca Raton that the GOP believes they are the only real Americans and at least 47% of the country are unreachable to them. Turns out it was 53%… and growing. Only 22% of people self-identify as Republcans in a recent poll. 

“The president has known for 16 months that this sequester was looming out there when the super committee failed to come to an agreement,” Boehner told reporters on Capitol Hill. “And so for 16 months, the president has been traveling all over the country holding rallies instead of sitting down with Senate leaders in order to try to forge an agreement over there in order to move a bill.”

So Obama was wrong to run for President for a year. He should have let Romney have the field to himself. It’s so unleaderlike to campaign.

In the real world Boehner is just teeing up killer responses by Pelosi and Reid making Boehner seem stupid and silly. But he cares not because in Boehner’s increasingly smaller Fox News world his audience will just laugh at Pelosi and Reid’s rejoinders, if they hear them at all. The conservative bubble immunizes the 22% from the truth. So it costs Boeher nothing with them.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. When you have mainstream miscreants like Woodward and the usual Politico hacks bending the truth into a pretzel in order to excuse the GOP from its culpability in this entire fiasco, the water is muddied. While the Dems continue to win the PR war, once again the essential truth is deranged so that the win is not the total annihilation it should be. The media continues to prop up a joke of a national party and the clown car they came out of.  

The simple fact is that the sequester was, as Ezra Klein described it, a punt. In the summer 2011 debt ceiling deal, everybody knew that there was an ideological logjam and nothing could be decided. So they came up with sequester, and putting off the big conflict until after the election, because (1) it was so poisonous it would motivate the two sides, and (2) the election would decide which ideological side the country favored. But here we are with the Democrats and Obama the clear winners but the GOP so intractable in the face of their defeat that they are ready to swallow the poison and claim they liked it.