January 6, 2012

Good years start badly. (GOP Edition)

Through anecdotal evidence from my own life, I have noticed that if a year starts out well it turns out poorly and if it starts out on a bad note, it turns out to be a great year.  Hopefully that turns out to be true for the GOP as the year is starting out pretty poorly for them.  Let me catch up on a few items as evidence.

President Obama is working his way around the Constitution on what he and the media are positioning as recess appointments (for example Richard Cordray) - except the Senate is not in recess, it's in session, pro-forma.  A technicality perhaps, but there are now legal questions that the GOP will probably avoid raising for feat of being portrayed as petty obstructionists rather than upholders of the Constitution.  Wonderful.

Mitt Romney is surging in South Carolina.  The commonly held idea that he is the most electable candidate is wrong.  He will not fare well against Obama for reasons I've already enumerated but undoubtedly will be doing again in the near future.  Mitt Romney is a Republican mistake waiting to happen (after the primary season of course). Every person still in the race is better than him with the exception of Jon Huntsman.  Every person in the race is more electable than him with the exception of Ron Paul.  Take everyone else out of the race except one competitor and Mitt Romney probably loses the primary.  That doesn't exactly instill confidence does it.  What's worse, the lack of enthusiasm for the candidates is being interpreted by the media as a lack of enthusiasm for booting out president Obama.  Wrong, but as always, repeat the story long enough and it will be perceived as fact. That doesn't bode well for voter turnout as it could dampen some enthusiasm for replacing with Obama with anyone from Mitt Romney to a lamp post.

The unemployment rate is dropping month by month.  It's down to 8.5% except that the math supporting those numbers doesn't make perfect sense to me.  For a number of reasons, but as Boston.com points out some of it is due to something conservatives have been pointing out for two years - so many people have given up even looking for work and therefore aren't counted in the unemployment rate unless you look at U6 instead of U3;
The decline is being magnified by short- and long-term trends that are bringing down the percentage of adults either working or looking for work. That percentage has ticked down over the past two years, from 64.6 percent to 64 percent. It's formally known as the labor force participation rate.
If the participation rate had stayed the same, more people would have been competing for jobs, and the unemployment rate in December could have been as high as 9.5 percent, said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute.
The economy has created more than 100,000 jobs in each of the past six months -- the first time that has happened since April 2006. Economists had thought those job gains would have drawn more discouraged workers back into the labor force. 
Not so far.
"The fact that we haven't seen much of a rebound in the labor force ... is a little contrary to what we were expecting," said Marisa DiNatale, an economist at Moody's Analytics.
The big reason this is bad for Republicans is that president Obama is going to be getting credit for the recovery, along with that stupid, worthless Keynesian stimulus effort and it's going to help his chances for re-election as well as falsely validating the ideas of Keynesian stimulus efforts in economic recoveries.

This has been a brutal first week of the year.  Who knows, maybe the Mayans were right.  Then again, maybe my anecdotal observations about bad years starting well and vice versa will hold true.  I certainly hope so.

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