January 13, 2020

Jobs Report

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

U.S. employers added 145,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5%, signaling that the job market remains strong at the start of 2020 even if hiring and wage gains have slowed somewhat more than a decade into an economic expansion.” AP News

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From the Left

The left worries that too many workers are being left out of the economic gains, and calls for systemic reforms.

“We must focus not just on wage trends but on wage levels… and ask: Are wages adequate? Can people support themselves and their families if they work full time? Currently, the answer is ‘no’ for a distressingly large share of the workforce… basic costs of living (housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes) frequently outpacing earnings from low-wage jobs, even in families with more than one worker… If society’s best interests are served by having people employed, housed, educated, and healthy, then we need to rethink the fundamentals of our economic and social policies.”
Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman, Brookings Institution Blog

One Democratic presidential candidate writes, “The American Dream is dying by the numbers. I’ve seen it in Iowa, where farm bankruptcies have gone up 71% since 2018. Where your water supplies are contaminated. Where opioid deaths have more than tripled since 2005. Where more than one in seven of your children live in poverty, while the state is short 359,000 child care spaces. Where over 55% of your kids leave the state for new opportunities. I’ve seen it across the country, where 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck…

“We need to rewrite the rules of the 21st-century economy so it works for us… First, we have to rewrite our tax code so that big corporations pay their fair share in taxes. Then, we need to rewrite the rules so that this money is reinvested in us, the American people. The Freedom Dividend will put $1,000 a month directly in the hands of every American adult over 18, no questions asked. This will reduce poverty, create millions of jobs, recognize the work of stay-at-home parents and caregivers, get the economic boot off people’s necks, and provide a floor upon which to build their lives… If the rules of the 21st-century economy aren’t working for you… Let’s change them.”
Andrew Yang, USA Today

Another presidential candidate notes that “About half of Americans don’t own stocks, and the share of national income going to workers — rather than investors — is actually near an all-time low… It used to be that a high school diploma came with a ticket to the middle class. That’s no longer true because many good jobs have been lost to global trade and technology…

“The federal government should make a major investment in [community colleges’] capacity to prepare students for employment, connect them to growing industries, and align curricula and standards with the skills that lead to good jobs… We should also help workers transition to new jobs by providing federal student aid to quality short-term certificate programs that demonstrate strong outcomes. We must also extend the earned income tax credit and unemployment insurance to Americans in training programs, so they can cover child care costs, rent, and other living expenses while they are investing in their future. These steps will help to bridge the prosperity divide in America and ensure that our economy works for all people, in all parts of our country.”
Michael Bloomberg and Arne Duncan, Chicago Tribune

“Low unemployment is great, but it should be the start of good social policy — not the end… [Trump’s] reelection campaign claims ‘we have the cleanest air on record’ when, in fact, air quality has been declining under Trump, and his administration is working on a bunch of regulatory rollbacks that will make air pollution even worse…

“One nice thing about a strong labor market is that it creates political space to finally pay attention to the myriad social problems that can’t be solved by a ‘good economy’ alone — things like child care, health care, college costs, and environmental protection — that during, the Obama years, tended to be crowded out by a jobs-first mentality. Good times, in other words, could be the perfect opportunity to finally tackle the many long-lingering problems for which progressives actually have solutions and about which conservatives would rather not talk.”
Matthew Yglesias, Vox

“The main question about the strike isn’t moral or even legal—it’s strategic. Soleimani was a supremely powerful leader of a state apparatus, with his own cult of personality, but he was not a terror kingpin. His death doesn’t decapitate anything. He had the blood of tens of thousands of people—overwhelmingly fellow Muslims—on his hands, but he was only the agent of a government policy that preceded him and will continue without him…The only reason to kill Soleimani is to enter a new war that the United States can win… [Yet] No one seems to have thought past the action itself…

“What would [a] war [with Iran] look like? How will Iran fight it? How will the U.S. respond? What credible allies will we have, after Trump’s trashing of the nuclear deal thoroughly alienated Europe? Who will believe any intelligence about Iran’s actions and intentions from an administration that can’t function without telling lies?…What is our war aim, and how can it be aligned with Trump’s obvious desire to be rid of any entanglement in the region? What will happen if Jerusalem becomes a target and Israel enters the conflict? What will the American people accept by way of sacrifice, when nothing has prepared them for this? There’s no sign that anyone in power, least of all the president, has even asked these questions, let alone knows how to answer them.”
George Packer, The Atlantic

“By declaring that the United States will respond with airstrikes to any attacks on American targets or assets, Mr. Trump is drawing a bright red line that Iran cannot cross. And yet, Iran relies on a network of proxy actors from Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. Must they all respect Mr. Trump’s red line? There are plenty of hotheads in those proxy forces that will be incensed by the assassination, the same way young men with weapons and minimal discipline often are… Mr. Trump can’t keep an entire region from crossing his red line, making violent conflict all the more likely if the president holds to it…

“It is crucial that influential Republican senators like Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio and Mitch McConnell remind Mr. Trump of his promise to keep America out of foreign quagmires and keep Mr. Trump from stumbling further into war with Iran.”
Editorial Board, New York Times

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right lauds the successful economy and believes it will help President Trump in November.

From the Right

The right lauds the successful economy and believes it will help President Trump in November.

“Between November 2018 and November 2019, overall median wage growth climbed 3.6 percent, a healthy pace that should lift spirits, too. Those in the bottom 25 percent saw wages advance 4.5 percent, while the top 25 percent lagged, with pay rising just 2.9 percent… [Under Trump median household income has risen by $5,070]; This 8.3 percent increase in middle-class income in less than three years crushes the two-term, eight-year performances of Obama ($1,043, up 1.7 percent) and G. W. Bush (an emaciated $401, or a paltry 0.7 percent boost)...

“Democrats should acknowledge the wonders that Trump and Republicans have done via tax reduction, regulatory relief, and a pro-business tone in Washington.”
Deroy Murdock, National Review

“Regardless of how much credit one wants to give to Trump, the reality is that we haven’t gotten a bull market of this length, an unemployment rate of this low, or wage growth of this relative proportion under any other president. It will present a challenge to Democrats, especially those running on the idea of blowing up the system, to portray the economy as struggling… if Trump wants to secure his reelection, he should spend much more time talking about job growth and a lot less time getting distracted by igniting infantile flame wars on Twitter. The economy will be the closing statement for Trump’s reelection as long as he doesn’t get in his own way.”
Editorial Board, Washington Examiner

“If the economy hits the recession we've been long overdue for, then maybe the cri de coeur of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will resonate with the swing staters who delivered President Trump the White House. But the longest bull market in history has persisted. The Dow continues to hit record highs. The tight labor market continues to pull people back into the workforce… Bernie and Warren can promise to eat the rich and fundamentally destroy the system. But when the system is working this well for everyone, a revolution sounds like more effort than it's worth.”
Tiana Lowe, Washington Examiner

“Coming out of college into a struggling jobs market with stagnant wage growth, high unemployment and carrying massive student debt, is it any wonder that this generation wasn’t facing the same escalator to greater prosperity than their parents enjoyed? So yes, in many cases what Bernie Sanders and other candidates are [describing] is at least partially true, particularly for millennials…

“But that’s not some new phenomenon that can be blamed on Trump, the GOP, the 2017 tax cuts or any other recent events. This is a challenging situation that’s been growing for decades, and there’s plenty of ‘blame’ to go around. And yet economic and employment trends are still heading in the right direction. We’re on a path to a brand new ‘happy days’ era if we manage to not blow it, and we don’t need some massive socialist overhaul of our system to ensure that the next generations will once again have the chance to exceed the accomplishments of their parents.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“As for inequality, the Gini coefficient that measures the income gap has been declining among folks who earn a paycheck. Rising wages have lifted millions of Americans out of poverty and off the government dole. The poverty rate for blacks (20.8%) and Hispanics (17.6%) is the lowest on record…

“Democrats on the campaign trail say the middle class is vanishing, but the opposite is true as more Americans escape poverty and others join the ranks of the affluent. Between 2016 and 2018 the number of taxpayers earning less than $25,000 declined 5% while increasing 8% for those making between $100,000 to $200,000 and 13.9% for those making more than $200,000, according to IRS data. And it’s not only folks along the coasts who are doing better. The number of people making more than $200,000 increased by 9.6% in Iowa and 17.6% in Michigan between 2016 and 2018.”
Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

“If a dozen drones or missiles can do the kind of damage to the world economy as did those fired on Saturday—shutting down about 6 percent of world oil production—imagine what a U.S.-Iran-Saudi war would do to the world economy. In recent decades, the U.S. has sold the Saudis hundreds of billions of dollars of military equipment. Did our weapons sales carry a guarantee that we will also come and fight alongside the kingdom if it gets into a war with its neighbors?… the nation does not want another war. How we avoid it, however, is becoming difficult to see. John Bolton may be gone from the West Wing, but his soul is marching on.”
Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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