Have we mentioned lately that the economy is tanking?
Today, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) released its May unemployment numbers – and the numbers reveal more bad news for the Obama economy. The unemployment rate creeped up to 8.1%, which is up two-tenths of one percent from April. Colorado, which enjoyed lower unemployment than the national average the past few months, is now catching up to the national average of 8.2%. Does this foreshadow a possible uptick in next month’s national unemployment?
In a press release, RNC spokeswoman Ellie Wallace said:
“This morning’s disappointing Colorado jobs numbers are further evidence that the current administration does not understand the needs of the middle class here in Colorado. Yesterday President Obama gave a speech that offered absolutely no new ideas for fixing the economy. The fact is he hasn’t lived up to his promises, and we can’t afford four more years of his failed policies.”
Either way, let’s remember that no president since FDR has ever been re-elected with unemployment above 7.2%. As a reminder, we’re at 8.2% unemployment, nationally. Check out Fox Business host Eric Bolling’s predictions from July of last year.
In the clip, Bolling estimates that the Obama administration would have to hope for 255,000 new jobs every month. Let’s take a look at how many jobs actually have been created each month since July 2011:
Looks like the average jobs added per month – 158,000 – is a far cry from the 250,000 needed to get unemployment under that magic number 7.2% number. It's no wonder Obama's poll numbers continue to be weak, with no sign of improving. But, again, the private sector is doing just fine, right?
Now that the legislative session is over, and the social issue special session concluded, and the bills signed by the Governor, we figured it was time to look back at the totality of the 2012 legislative session and give the politicos, press corps and politicians a grade.
For technophiles, 2012's session was also one to remember. Twitter quickly became a dominant force under the Gold Dome, with minute-by-minute (or in John Schroyer's case, second-by-second) coverage coming from the Capitol press corps. Eventually, the House GOP and Democrat caucuses joined the battle, bringing their partisan food fight to followers of the #COleg hashtag everywhere.
The most sweeping change that the end of session brought about was the end of, as Lynn Bartels has noted, at least 33 lawmakers' careers at the Capitol due to term limits and those deciding not to seek re-election. We're not sad to see many of them go, and more are likely to be booted by voters in November, but there are some legislators who the Capitol will be less without, like Senators Nancy Spence and Keith King.
Seniors – For the first time in years, Colorado's seniors will get a break on their property taxes. Despite initial opposition by Democrats, a combination of improved revenue forecasts and the GOP's refusal to back down, the Senior Homestead Exemption was reinstated, allowing seniors who have been in their homes for 10 years to get a 50% break on the first $200,000 of their home's value.
The AP's Crack Capitol Squad — Ivan Moreno and Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press achieved what few Capitol reporters can — they wrote fair stories that drew virtually no criticism from either side. They not only managed to cover the Capitol fairly, but prolifically, cranking out stories mere minutes after press conferences or news events happened. Plus, they mentioned our site in the AP story on Glitter Bomber Boy, and we're suckers for having our name dropped into nearly every media market in the country.
Speaker McNulty — He wasn’t a winner in the minds of the talking heads and press in the Capitol, but like Scott Gessler, McNulty didn’t seem much to mind. From the start of the session, McNulty was the power center that mattered most. Sometimes the political yappers liked it, sometimes they didn’t. McNulty boxed Hickenlooper and the Democrats into restoring a huge tax break for seniors, something the Denver Post editorial board and the yappers didn’t like. But he got his way anyway. The same can be said of everything from the budget deal, to the Laura Bradford imbroglio, to the civil union free for all. Love it or not, McNulty was in charge. And when he had the moxie to swing back at Hick in the social issues special session, he established himself as the de facto head of the GOP, whether the cackling yappers under the Dome like it or not.
The Class Acts – When Rep. BJ Nikkel (R-Loveland), Rep. Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan), and Sen. Keith King (R-CO Springs) were Mario-Mandered out of their districts this year, Democrats were salivating at the idea of nasty Republican primaries. But, each legislator took the high road, and gracefully bowed out. We hope we’ll see more of these class acts soon.
Secretary of State Scott Gessler – Secretary Gessler’s term started out rough, but he’s proven his mettle this legislative season. After being derisively dubbed the "Honey Badger" by Democrats, Gessler decided to embrace the label, biting the heads off the poisonous Democrat snakes and "going on his merry way." Not only that, but Gessler has been the lucky recipient of an incompetent political rival in Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Rick Palacio, who launched a flaccid recall attempt on Gessler. Ever since that spectacularly failed opposition "campaign," Gessler has been given a fresh lease on his political life.
Read his blog, Second Reading. He's good with full sentences too.
Glitter Bomber Boy – State Senate Democrat aide Peter Smith thought it was a good idea to throw an unidentified substance (glitter) at Mitt Romney the same week Secret Service began their protection detail. Not only did Smith find himself quickly scooped up and escorted to a holding room by Secret Service agents, but his name ended up in newspapers across the country twice. First after he was arrested and second after we broke the story of his political employment with Brandon Shaffer's Senate caucus. Since Smith actually helped us land our first Drudge Report link, he's a winner to us, but a loser to everyone else.
Rep. Laura Bradford – Whether Bradford was drunk the night she was pulled over we'll never know for sure, but her handling of the situation and her subsequent immature standoff with Republican legislators was a distraction from the very real economic issues that legislators were tackling this year. Unsurprisingly, Bradford has decided not to seek re-election.
Occupy Denver – The scabies-infested squatters were finally ousted from outside the Capitol, as well as city and state parks, through the no-camping ban. If we knew what they were protesting, and didn't elect a dog as their leader, we might have more sympathy, but as it stands, we’re still scratching our heads and asking, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” Maybe Rep. Max Tyler can explain — he protested in solidarity with them.
Rep. Joe Miklosi (D-Denver) – When Miklosi announced his bill to forbid discrimination against those in motorcycle gang clothing, we had to check our calendar to ensure it wasn’t April Fools’ Day. Turns out the only fool was Miklosi, who was also ranked as a Legislative Loser by The Denver Post. During his last legislative session before asking for a promotion to Congress, Miklosi did not do a single thing to shine. In his side job, running for Congress, he has been literally the worst fundraiser of any Democrat in any targeted seat in the country. Oh, and he was embroiled in a labor dispute with his former finance director, his general consultant bragged about "stealing" $90 million in taxpayer bonds and he doesn't even know who is running his campaign.
Senate President Brandon Shaffer (aka T-GRAC): At the moment of sine die, Brandon Shaffer's power in the political world began to deflate like a popped helium balloon — but that's not to say there wasn't a bit of narrative foreshadowing early on. Shaffer began the session comparing his political plight to that of a rape victim, and ended it entering a hopeless, delusional, some might say tilting at windmills, race for the 4th Congressional District. Pat Stryker and Tim Gill decided you were the weakest link in their redistricting plan, Senator Shaffer. Goodbye.
Senator Evie Hudak (D-Tax Hike): The Dean of the Dirty Dozen Delegation, Senator Hudak has never met a tax hike she doesn't like. Recently, Revealing Politics caught Hudak on candid camera admitting to supporting a tax increase that had not even been drafted yet. A leading cheerleader for $3 billion in new taxes in Prop 103, which went down 2-1 in Colorado, Hudak is wildly out of step with her district. Senator Hudak's biggest bill this session was lampooned by the Denver Post editorial board as "muddled economic thinking." Coming soon to a GOP mail vendor: a ready-made tax and spend messaging target.
Dianne Primavera (& Ann McGihon) ethics violation – Busted for having a lobbyist host a fundraiser for her campaign during the legislative session, former Rep. Primavera is off to a rocky start to reclaim her Broomfield-based House seat that she lost to Don Beezley in 2010. The ethics complaint was dismissed after lobbyist McGihon removed her name from the host committee, but the case was a major PR blunder for her campaign in the local papers.
In Twitter parlance this is called #TWITMO, or Twitter Gitmo.
*A term coined by a football coach at the US Naval Academy to describe the frustration of a scoreless tie, this category is folks who moved the ball forward, only to lose the same yardage right back.
Governor Hickenlooper — This category is really defined by Hickenlooper, who makes a positive move on energy, only to fall back with his less than engaged approach at the Capitol and decisions like disregarding victim compensation issues in the Lower North Fork Fire.
The Good Governor's meandering messaging has begun to catch up to him a bit. He landed himself in hot water with a few inadvertent X-rated references, including one with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. Not helpful, Governor. Mayor Han(d)cock still hasn't fully put the allegations about his visiting hookers to (bed) rest.
Post-legislative session, Hickenlooper's tendency to run his mouth has landed him in more policy-oriented trouble, including opposing the individual mandate at the heart of Obamacare and seemingly endorsing Mayor Bloomberg's attempt to make 20 oz sodas illegal.
During the session Hickenlooper mostly played his regular legislative hand — he folded and sat it out, keeping himself free of the dirt of politics. The only thing that might be considered the least bit controversial was Hick's outright defiance of the enviros in his crusade for fracking, even recording a radio ad for the Colorado Oil & Gas Association.
"Hickenlooper is Amazing" may still be the bedtime story for many in the press corps, but his political chops are beginning to show some wear and tear.
@JohnSchroyer – He is everywhere.
@JohnSchroyer – He is everywhere.
President Obama's cocky tone and self-assured nature on full display throughout 2009 is coming back to bite him. The RNC is out with a new web ad using Obama's infamous promise from 2009 to turn the economy around: “If I don’t have this done in three years, then this is going to be a one-term proposition."
The ad combines two damaging themes about Obama, his extensive time on the golf course — he’s coming up on his 100th round of 18 holes since becoming president — and his words not matching his actions.
To extend the golf metaphor, there’s another good clip that came to mind. It seems soliloquies are not an effective strategy in economics nor golf:
Colorado Democrats have long bucked the national party when it comes to financial disclosure of campaign contributions–after all, Stryker, Gill et al practically invented SuperPACs. But now it appears Democrat members of Colorado's congressional delegation don't care much for their own financial disclosures either.
According to LegiStorm, Sen. Mark Udall and Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis were among 92 members of Congress who requested extensions on their personal financial disclosures (PFDs).
Although there is nothing inherently unethical in requesting the 90 day extension, it is odd to see Polis and Perlmutter among the 3 (of 5) Colorado Democrats to request extensions. As you may recall Polis is at the center of a national scandal involving insider-trading by members of Congress. Ironically PFDs are aimed at preventing things such as, you know, insider-trading.
Perlmutter, for his part, is trying to play up his blue-collar image–but may have finally met the one opponent who can take him to task on the airwaves for his hypocrisy–a ride likely to be shortened once he files his PFD.
It'll be fun for Republicans to see what “treasures” Polis' and Perlmutter's PFDs hold.
Following the Wisconsin union smackdown the AFL-CIO has announced its decision to shift funding from political candidates to bolstering its own infrastructure and advocacy. Probably wise, as critics are calling the failed recall a death knell for unions.
AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein was very careful in his initial conversation with Washington Whispers to emphasize that the decision is not an indictment of Obama’s failed leadership in the Wisconsin recall. Which, of course, means that it is.
While there were "a lot of different opinions" about whether Obama should have gone to Wisconsin, according to Goldstein, "this is not a slight at the president."
Contrast Goldstein’s comments with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s in May: “Trumka threatened to reduce support for the Democratic party and launch ‘an independent labor movement’ if Democrats didn't more fully support the union agenda.”
We’re not sure how much more pro-union Democrats could be, particularly in Colorado, where union “Get Out the Vote” efforts have been largely spearheaded by union-backed organizations.
According to FollowtheMoney.org, unions have given a total of $5.1 million to Colorado State House and Senate candidate since 1996. The public sector unions alone have given nearly $2.75 million to the same races. Frighteningly, these numbers don’t even calculate money to statewide candidates, statewide ballot initiatives, gubernatorial candidates, or independent expenditure committees (e.g., 527s or SuperPACs).
After the fallout from Goldstein’s statement, he sought to clarify the method behind their madness, saying:
"Some candidates will get more, some less, some the same — but overall we'll be focused more on spending resources to build our own structure [that] works for working people instead of others' own structures."
We wonder which legislative candidates still will receive union “Thank You” money in Colorado. Union donations should be a good barometer of how large of a drain on the system each candidate either has been or promises to be. Stay tuned…..
The U.S. Labor Department reported today that the economy continues to deteriorate for Americans out of work, with unemployment claims continuing to rise. Don't worry, though, Obama has a solution. Blame Bush!
Per the Labor Department press release:
In the week ending June 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 386,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week's revised figure of 380,000. The 4-week moving average was 382,000, an increase of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 378,500.
To clarify, this measures the number of new applicants for unemployment benefits. The number of those receiving some sort of unemployment benefit – either at the state or federal level – remains at nearly six million.
In contrast, the total claims prior to Obama’s Great Recession averaged less than three million.
The news is particularly devastating for Obama as economists surveyed by MarketWatch had projected that claims would fall to 376,000.
The snail's pace of the so-called recovery has been a problem for a while now, a problem that seems to be compounding both economically and politically for Barack Obama since February. Per Marketwatch:
Claims fell steadily in the second half of 2011 and touched a four-year low in early February, but they turned higher shortly afterward and remain somewhat elevated.
Unfortunately for those looking for a job, this indicator is not the only one showing weak job prospects as the U.S. unemployment rate rose in May to 8.2%, which was the first increase in nearly a year.
We hate to beat a dead horse, but the bad news just keeps on coming.
A video clip of President Obama demanding responsibility for the economy has recently been unearthed and is likely to show up on your TV screen in the not-so-distant future. In July 2009, Obama bragged about how he was proud to own the economy, about how it was his responsibility to fix the economy. He goes to so far as to demand "give it to me."
Well, Mr. President, conservatives are more than happy to oblige.
Per the transcript:
“My administration has a job to do as well. That job is to get this economy back on its feet. That’s my job, and it’s a job I gladly accept. I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, “Well this is Obama’s economy.” That’s fine. GIVE IT TO ME. My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and carp and gripe. So, I welcome the job. I want the responsibility.” — President Obama, July 14, 2009
Last night in Colorado a focus group conducted by a veteran Democratic pollster got ugly for Obama. The group, made up of twelve undecided voters, expressed their decidedly sour view of President Obama, which National Journal summed up in saying "the prevailing sentiment was that the president was a slick salesman, but his words didn't match his actions."
Ten of the twelve participants voted for Obama in 2008, but only three said they leaned toward supporting him this time around. Reading some of the reactions to Obama you would think you were reading a right wing talk radio transcript. Nope, that's just the "prevailing sentiment" these days according to a publication not known for its conservative tendencies.
Reports National Journal:
Listening to the feedback from the group, it was striking how many of them have grown disillusioned from their own expectations set by Obama's soaring rhetoric from 2008, and the less-inspiring reality that transpired.
After being shown footage of a campaign speech by Obama, the prevailing sentiment was that the president was a slick salesman, but his words didn't match his actions.
"I got duped. I fell under his spell. What he's done with the car industry is the only real success," said Patrick Allen, a 27-year-old health care consultant, who voted for Obama in 2008. "I feel like I was somewhat lied to."
The most tasty part of this focus group treat is the finding that Obama's personal likability is going to mean all of jack and squat when it comes to peoples’ votes:
Almost unanimously, the participants said they'd prefer to hang out with Obama over Romney, but no one said that would shape their vote in November. It's a sign that even if Obama holds a significant edge on personal likability, it's unlikely to translate into many votes if they view his job performance unfavorably.
We guess stiff and smart is more appealing to voters than cool and clueless.
In a superb column today, the Denver Post's Vincent Carroll raises a question that not long ago would have stretched the bounds of reason: Are these the final days for the Douglas County Federation of Teachers? With June 30 looming as the current collective bargaining agreement's expiration date, however, it is now a very real possibility that the state of labor relations in Colorado's third-largest school district soon could make a major change.
While a move on such scale appears to be without precedent, it stands as a legitimate and appropriate use of power. Colorado is one of 9 states where school boards retain the discretion concerning whether, and what sort of, labor relations to have. A full 137 of the state's 178 school districts live without an exclusive collective bargaining agreement. Douglas County would become the largest of the lot. As I noted in a 2011 Independence Institute brief, Tiny Park County Re-2 was the most recent to revoke an existing agreement:
A former teachers union president cast the deciding vote to cancel the exclusive representative status [the South Park Education Association] had enjoyed for nearly a decade.
For every full-time teacher once represented by SPEA, DCFT's bargaining power currently covers nearly 70. So in terms of scale, a change in Douglas County would be significant. And as Carroll notes, with the district's bold proposals to advance performance and market pay, as well as other innovative delivery models, they “will no doubt find the transition easier without a reactionary union habitually digging in its heels.”
In making classroom policy decisions, a wise school board still will heed the voices of its best instructors and those committed to promoting excellence within the profession (in addition to parents, who too often are overlooked). Further, as I have compiled in an unofficial list, Colorado law contains a substantial number of protections for teachers — whether they be union or non-union. And starting next month, Douglas County teachers may have more options for representation, in addition to membership. No matter what happens, teachers still will be (and should be) able to continue paying voluntary dues to DCFT.
While DCFT officials would not back down on demanding they retain their exclusive privileged power to represent teachers, they did indicate at last Friday's final scheduled open negotiation session that it would be okay to end the unethical practice of the school district collecting union dues. The Board has good reason to pursue the change, seeing as how government-collected union funds finance not only school board campaigns but also partisan state races (most Colorado AFT money comes from Douglas County) and a national political agenda that sometimes collides and conflicts with the Board's community-supported vision.
Interestingly, though, DCFT president Brenda Smith also publicly stated that the union reserves the right to sue the district over the dues collection issue. If the union is looking for a way to ensure the collective bargaining agreement lives on, threatening legal action (along with repeatedly disseminating misleading budget information) does not give the Board many good reasons to do so. One has to wonder what officials at the Colorado Education Association, which oversees the state's 40 other teacher bargaining units, think about this development: How many other school boards will get this same idea, and how can we persuade them not to?
Teachers in Dougco may demonstrate that, from most teachers' perspective, the union's heft through its exclusive bargaining status has been exaggerated. Back in May, during one of the more heated bargaining sessions, DCFT negotiators complained about continuing employment contracts the district sent out by email. Nearly 3,000 certified employees were each given 30 days to declare their intention to return or risk losing their job assignment. Thereafter DCFT officials have declared on several occasions that many educators were holding out to make certain a collective bargaining agreement would be ratified.
The deadline to return the contracts is Friday. As the Post's Karen Auge reports, 2,238 of 2,980 teachers (75 percent) had returned signed contracts as of yesterday. My own information request to Douglas County not only confirms these numbers but also indicates that
…at least 2 of the union's at least 2 of the teachers involved in the union negotiations have signed their contract (there were several of the union members, like Brenda Smith, that are not receiving a contract because they do not have an assignment for next year).
After all, the district no longer is paying for union officials to do union business with taxpayer money, another positive development out of this whole exchange.
Anyway, a former teachers union president in Park County, two union negotiators in Dougco. In the end, the union's power and prestige — embodied in local collective bargaining power — may not prove a worthwhile cause for which to stick out one's neck. And Douglas County students will do just fine, or even all the better, for the change.