As always there is much going on in politics. Some of it may actually be important. Some of it, well, not so much, like whether Donald Trump should moderate a Republican debate or not. That is just a distraction, but these are not.
- The economy and unemployment: Much was made of the recent decline in the unemployment rate to 8.6 percent. Don’t get too excited. When over 300,000 people quit looking for work and are not counted in the labor force that is bad news not good news. Almost half the new jobs created were in retail. Does anyone at the Bureau of Labor Statistics realize that retail jobs at the holidays are temporary? Geez….
- Europe: Will the European Central Bank and France and Germany come up with a new bailout plan to solve Europe’s mounting debt problems? I doubt it. When will the Germans finally get tired of working to pay taxes to bail out nations that refuse to solve their own problems. I am betting pretty soon. The German economy is heavily based upon exports. As the Eurozone continues to weaken the German economy will, too. Then it becomes crunch time. The European economy is toast, and not the tasty French variety.
- Oil and Social Security: It seems that Congressional Republicans want to link approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to an extension of the payroll tax cut. Obama, of course, has threatened a veto. I think that is good. Let him be forced to veto a project that will create jobs and reduce our oil imports from OPEC. After all, who would want to create jobs and reduce our dependency on OPEC? Apparently not President Obama. I think the whole payroll tax cut is gimmicky and not meaningful. The country needs substantial tax and entitlement reform and budget cutting, not gimmicks. But it is good to see President Obama over a barrel, so to speak. It will be interesting to see how the unions line up on this one. Maybe we will finally see the unions square off against the environmentalists. That would really be a substantial fracture in the Democratic Party coalition.
- Russia and Democracy: Apparently it is ok with the State Department that Vlad Putin can steal another election. Sure, Secretary of State Clinton made the usual perfunctory remarks that the elections were not free or fair. (Is she surprised?) But she was apparently not too busy recently to criticize Israeli democracy. Maybe she needs to be reminded just how few democracies there are in the Middle East or which Middle Eastern nations are truly aligned with the United States. Or perhaps she doesn’t care. When we have Saul Alinskyites in high office this is what we get.