Friday, May 04, 2012

Catnip 5/4/12


The world-famous Oaksterdam. What happens after the big bust, it's been up in the air - but sure was nice to see Nancy Pelosi raise her voice in support yesterday for medical marijuana patients. Seriously folks, don't we have better things to spend our law enforcement dollars on?

Chunks 'o news:

Romney's national health care plan would undermine his accomplishment in Massachusetts as governor. From the Boston Globe: "Although the specifics of Romney’s plan are not public, his overall intent - to rein in how much Medicaid money Washington sends to the states - would probably cripple the Massachusetts health care law, which was made possible by an expansion of Medicaid funding. If Romney succeeds, the result could have an ironic twist: the governor who ushered in the country’s first universal health plan would, as president, put in place policies that could undermine one of his signature achievements." His plan would also increase the number of uninsured Americans, as has been pointed out previously by the LA Times.

Does the individual mandate preserve liberty? That's an interesting argument; check out this Bloomberg article from Jonathan Cohn and David Srauss for the details. Here's the line that will have the free market crowd reaching for the smelling salts: "Sometimes, markets don’t work without government intervention." Stand back, heads are about to explode in 3...2...1...

The jobs report has become the new national sport for election-year politics. The economy is still adding jobs, 115,000 gained in April with the unemployment rate dropping to 8.1 percent, but when you don't reach economist's expectations - look for the people who are obstructing recovery to start blaming the administration in an attempt to jumpstart their own political gain. The Labor Department revised February and March report to show more job gains than initially reported - will that happen for these numbers as well?

Alec MacGillis at the The New Republic has the low-down on the jobs numbers, and here's something the Republicans won't tell you: "Tucked inside this morning’s lackluster monthly jobs report is a remarkable figure: the economy is back to a net positive for the number of private sector jobs created since the start of 2009. That is, even with the ginormous job losses that we saw in the first few months of 2009, we’re now back in the black from that standpoint. But that’s private sector jobs. In the public sector, we’ve lost more than 600,000 jobs since the start of 2009 – 12,000 more in the past month, mostly in education."

 There are still other signs of recovery and moderate growth in the economy; one indicator is that states see surpluses instead of deficits. From the Financial Times: "During the past four years, state lawmakers have closed more than $500bn of budgets gaps as tax revenues plummeted in the wake of an economic recession that began in 2007. For the first time since then, a number of states are expecting to have extra cash at year end." Twenty-nine states are reporting they will see a surplus at the end of fiscal 2011.

Gallup's report on consumer spending shows that the April estimate is "one of the highest in the last three years." Consumer's self-reported purchases outside of housing, vehicles and normal bills, is at $73 a day. "Gallup finds that daily spending has exceeded $70 in each of the last two months, marking only the second time since 2009 -- and the first since October-December 2011 -- that spending has been at or above the $70 mark in consecutive months."

It's all about the swing states. The Washington Post takes a comprehensive look at the path to electoral victory, and woe to you that live in a targeted state, for you will be caught in the flood of one of the nastiest presidential campaigns ever.

Automakers agree to standardize charging systems for electric cars - very good news for consumers. "Ford, General Motors, Chrysler-Daimler, Audi, BMW, Porsche and Volkswagen announced they would display the new charging systems during the upcoming Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles. The companies said the chargers would combine "one-phase AC-charging, fast three-phase AC-charging, DC-charging at home and ultra-fast DC-charging at public stations into one vehicle inlet." The chargers will be available for purchase at the end of this year and will be compatible with the 2013 model year.

A victory for gay rights advocates in Colorado, as a Republican-led House committee advanced a bill supporting civil unions in that state yesterday. The measure has to clear a couple more hurdles in the House, but it has already passed the Senate and Gov. John Hickenlooper is "firmly behind the plan."

Off to the big city... have a great weekend everyone.