Economy Shrinks Despite $2 Trillion in Fed Stimulus

On Thursday, the Commerce Department revised downward its estimate of GDP growth in the first three months of the year. New data reveals the economy shrank by 1.0% in the first quarter, a sharp reversal from the agency’s initial estimate of 0.1% growth. The new estimate is the first drop in GDP since the first quarter in 2011. Mostly unreported, however, is the fact that the Federal Reserve has pumped almost $2 trillion into the economy since that economic contraction three years ago. 

At the end of 2010, just ahead of the economic contraction at the beginning of 2011, the Federal Reserve announced QE2, its second round of “quantitative easing.” In that round of pumping liquidity (read, cash) into the market, the Fed would buy $600 billion worth of US debt. That buying took place in the first 2 quarters of 2011. 

Towards the end of 2012, just ahead of the presidential election, the Fed announced QE3, a new round of flooding the market with money. Initially pegged at around $40 billion a month, the Fed soon increased its purchases of securities to $85 billion a month throughout 2013. 

In the past couple months, the Fed has begun “tapering,” i.e. scaling back, its securities purchasing. Currently, the Fed is injecting around $45 billion a month into the market. 

Totally up all of this stimulus, the Fed has pumped somewhere around $1.7 — $2 trillion into the economy over the last three years. At the end of 2010, current-dollar GDP was $14.6 trillion. The Commerce Department reported Thursday that current-dollar GDP is now $17.1 trillion.

In other words, the Fed stimulus program accounts for almost all growth in economic output for the last three years. Keep in mind, those figures are in “current-dollars,” which don’t account for inflation since 2010. 

Absent the Fed’s money-printing machine, there has been no real growth in the economy for the past three years.




Source: Breitbart Feed

Arizona Withdraws From PARCC Common Core Test Consortium

On Friday, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) announced that Arizona will withdraw from the increasingly controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a Common Core test consortium, of which it is a governing state.

As azcentral.com reports, Brewer said that, while Arizona has no problem with its relationship with PARCC, she wishes to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest when her state seeks bids to replace the Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS).

The state originally adopted the Common Core standards in 2010, then essentially “rebranded” them as the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards. Now, the state needs a new assessment to test students on the newly named standards.

The Arizona State Board of Education received sample tests from five organizations, including PARCC, when it requested information about potential replacement tests for AIMS, which is currently supplied by Pearson.

Pearson, the world’s largest education company, recently won a contract, described as one of “unprecedented scale,” by a PARCC official, for which the education giant was the only bidder for services that include test delivery and item development for the PARCC Common Core test consortium. The contract, however, was halted this week by a judge in New Mexico when another testing company, American Institutes for Research, filed a protest alleging that the PARCC contract bidding process was unfair and biased in Pearson’s favor.

“(A)s Arizona begins its competitive bidding process for a new statewide assessment, it is necessary to withdraw from the PARCC consortium in order to protect the independence of our procurement process and prevent any perception of favoritism,” Brewer wrote.

Arizona’s superintendent for public instruction, John Huppenthal, who has served on PARCC’s board of directors, also signed Brewer’s letter, saying, “It debunks the myth that the standards and the new test are being driven by a cabal out of Washington.”

PARCC Communications director David Connerty-Marin said that PARCC expected Arizona to cancel its membership in the consortium.

“We knew this was the plan all along for Arizona because of the state’s procurement process,” he said.

Leila Williams, the state’s deputy associate superintendent of high quality assessments, said Arizona allowed 100,000 of its students, at 500 schools, to help PARCC field-test exam questions before the end of the school year.

“The process of being involved in the test development was helpful,” Williams said.

The state board of education is expected to review proposals for a new exam from test companies in August and to choose a test in the fall. The state legislature has approved $18 million for a new test.

 




Source: Breitbart Feed

New York Times Editorial Board Defends Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Gun Law

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Chicago’s 30-year gun ban is unconstitutional, and the city must now allow gun shops to open in city limits. But this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced extremely prohibitive new regulations for gun shops, a move that is really a defacto ban, and The New York Times is siding with him.

Even as the highest court in the land informed Chicago that it would have to allow gun shops to open in the city and allow its citizens to have concealed carry licenses to protect themselves, former Obama Chief of Staff Mayor Rahm Emanuel is still looking for ways to use “the law” to put a hamper on those reaffirmed Second Amendment rights.

To continue to restrict guns as much as possible, Emanuel has announced a whole new series of rules that will prevent gun shops from opening in over 99 percent of the city. He has also put a limit on how many guns a customer is allowed to buy, demanded that gun shop employees undergo training to alert themselves to the signs of a “straw buyer,” and insisted that gun shops make video records of every customer to whom they sell.

These extremely restrictive rules, The New York Times says, are “reasonable proposals.”

The Gray Lady begins its May 29 editorial with a contradictory first paragraph.

“The city of Chicago,” the Times begins, “bedeviled by street gang violence, refuses to give in to ever more restrictive court rulings against enactment of sensible gun safety laws. The Supreme Court’s misguided 2010 decision ended the nearly 30-year-long ban on handguns in Chicago.”

Of course, it is Chicago’s past laws that were restrictive, not the Supreme Court’s pro-Second Amendment ruling. The SCOTUS ruling loosens restrictions, not the other way around.

Furthermore, if Chicago’s 30-year gun ban was so wonderful, why is Chicago “bedeviled” by gun violence?

The Times goes on to say that Emanuel’s proposals are “rooted in proven reforms that Congress should be considering nationally.” And yet Chicago is one of the most dangerous cities in America with anywhere from two to four killed every weekend and dozens wounded. Again, if Chicago’s gun bans were working so well, why the constant mayhem?

The New York paper also invokes several recent criminal shootings, such as Sandy Hook, and seems to imply that these shootings are growing. But studies show that there were more school shootings in the past than there are today. Also, gun rights activists are quick to point out that many of these mass shootings are in places officially designated as “gun free zones,” so bans are not any sort of panacea.

In one case, for instance, a North Carolina fast food restaurant with a “no gun” sticker on its front door was robbed at gunpoint three times, despite the store’s ban of guns inside its premises.

The New York Times is right about one thing: it is time to change things to try to get a different result. But reinstituting Chicago’s gun ban–using backdoor, overly restrictive city regulations this time–isn’t likely the way to go.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.




Source: Breitbart Feed

Ayaan Hirsi Ali Questions Why America, the West Can Unite Against Apartheid But Not Sharia

On Friday’s “The Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel, Harvard Kennedy School fellow Ayaan Hirsi Ali made an appearance to discuss the plight of Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman who was sentenced to death for her Christianity that recently gave birth in a Sudanese prison.

Hirsi Ali, an outspoken critic and victim of Islam for female genital mutilation, urged those in the West, including states, to unite against tenets of Sharia Law, which call for the punishment she and Ibrahim faced, as they did against South Africa’s apartheid in the 1980s and 1990s.

“It’s not a dichotomy — it’s not like black and white between having boots on the ground versus doing nothing,” Hirsi Ali said. “Remember apartheid — we stopped it through writing books, writing, through songs, through trade boycotts, through diplomacy. We were united as a — just not America but the West and all moral countries to say it is unacceptable to divide humanity to blacks and whites and what are we seeing with Sharia? We’re seeing it in Brunei. We’re seeing it in Sudan. We know it in our lives, Saudi Arabia and others. On grounds of, you know … we are not taking the positions, the moral positions that we need to and we’re not fighting that moral positions with the tools we have.”

Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor




Source: Breitbart Feed

WaPo: GOP in ‘Retreat’ on Obamacare Repeal

The Washington Post, desperate to split the GOP as the fortunes of the GOP in 2014 look ever rosier, has a piece asserting that GOP candidates are backing off from repealing Obamacare. 

The implicit goal of the Post, of course, is to alienate the conservative base from members of the GOP so that Democrats can sneak through and hold on to what seats in Congress they can.

The Post states that the candidates willing to abandon efforts to repeal Obamacare are more interested in a “piecemeal approach” by which they would pick and choose which parts of Obamacare they would retain. The article cites candidates that are championed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, such as Rep. Joseph J. Heck (R-NV), Republican Massachusetts House contender Richard Tisei, and Oregon GOP Senate candidate Monica Wehby.

The Post cleverly quotes a recent column for the Cook Political Report asserting that “a shift already is underway” on the airwaves. One problem: the Cook Political Report comes from the leftist National Journal.

The Post admits that Scott Brown, running for the Senate in New Hampshire, is for repealing Obamacare. The article twists another candidate’s view this way: “In Minnesota, Republican House candidate Stewart Mills pledges in a campaign ad to ‘replace’ the law, rather than simply repealing it.” Somehow the Post doesn’t understand replacing something means getting rid of what preceded it.

When the Post is looking for some GOP group to back its thesis, it turns to Glen Bolger, a partner with the GOP polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, who says, “The sentiment toward the Affordable Care Act is still strongly negative, but people are saying, ‘Don’t throw the baby out’ with the bathwater.”

However, if Public Opinion Strategies thinks that the strategy of backing away from repealing Obamacare is a recent phenomenon, then why were they pushing it back in November of 2013? Their blog then read like this:

Three. The only way the President can bump up support of Obamacare is by luring an unpopular GOP into a fight in which Republicans are sure to get the partisan short end of the stick.

Four. The president and his allies in the Senate will take every opportunity to tempt the GOP into Republicans-versus-Obamacare fights between now and Election Day. And, they will win most of them.

The Post notes that the House GOP want to postpone a vote on their own health-reform proposal as an argument supporting its thesis, quoting “lawmakers” as saying the delay would give the GOP more “time to work on the bill and weigh the consequences of putting a detailed policy before the voters in the fall.”

Who would be a reliable source on the motives of the GOP? Why, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who said the GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare “backfired… now they’re promising fixes but won’t be specific. That’s like a car dealer offering you a trade-in without telling you the car you’re getting in return. No one would buy that, and voters won’t buy this Republican scheme.”

The Post does admit that “a significant number of GOP Senate and House aspirants still back the idea of fully repealing the Affordable Care Act, including Senate candidates Tom Cotton (Ark.), Terri Lynn Land (Mich.), and Thom Tillis (N.C.).”

But the Post reserves the bulk of the article for its chief target, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY). It acknowledges he has vowed “to rip up Obamacare ‘root and branch'” but then segues into an attack on McConnell for asserting that repealing Obamacare is unconnected to the fate of Kynect, Kentucky’s state-run exchange. McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore has stated that Kynect could continue operating even if Obamacare is repealed. She stated, “If Obamacare is repealed, Kentucky should decide for itself whether to keep Kynect or set up a different marketplace.”

The campaign manager for Alison Lundergan Grimes, McConnell’s Democratic opponent, stated inaccurately, “McConnell has voted to destroy Kynect – and he has said he will do it again.”

Finally, at the conclusion of the article, the Post quotes Jahan Wilcox, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, who stated in an email that Obamacare remains a prime target for the GOP, naming opponents such as Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Senate candidate Michelle Nunn of Georgia. Wilcox said succinctly, “We are thrilled Democrats are set to embrace their job-killing healthcare law.”




Source: Breitbart Feed