Wages & Prices

By Mark Finkelstein | February 25, 2015 | 9:31 AM EST

Who said: "I've always believed the decline of the middle class could be tied to the decline of unions. And when you have 7%, 8% of the work force in unions, when you have CEO pay going up to record heights, you're going to have a hollowing out of the middle class." Was it a. Elizabeth Warren; b. Robert Reich; or c. Ed Schultz?

Correct answer: d. None of the above.  It was Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe. Scarborough prefaced his lament over the decline of unions by saying "It's been well-documented on Twitter: I'm a right-wing Republican stooge."  Translation: to my liberal critics out there, see: my heart's in the right [left] place when it comes to unions.

By Curtis Houck | February 23, 2015 | 9:47 PM EST

All three major broadcast networks took time during their post-Oscars stories on Monday night to mention actress Patricia Arquette’s calls for “wage equality” and “equal rights for women,” but it was the CBS Evening News that went one step further by devoting a whole segment to the topic and used loaded statistics to craft a one-sided argument to prop up Arquette’s rant. Anchor Scott Pelley noted her as one example of how award winners “used the national stage as a soapbox” and gushed that “she has point” when it comes to the issue of what men and women earn.

By Seton Motley | February 2, 2015 | 9:37 AM EST

The Seattle Seahawks yesterday - in a moment of profound foolishness - forsook Beast Mode for Least Mode.  And it cost them the Super Bowl.   But they can take ever so slight solace - the Media has been in Least Mode for decades. 

This has been on prominent display throughout the Barack Obama Administration - and certainly when it comes to the Administration’s many, MANY unilateral power grabs.

First, a bit of a Constitutional primer for a Media that seems to desperately need it.  Congress is the Legislative Branch.  They write laws - which the President then signs.  Said President presides over the Executive Branch.  His many, many, MANY Departments, Agencies, Commissions and Boards are then - and only then - charged with executing the legislation Congress first composed. 

By Tom Blumer | January 30, 2015 | 9:30 PM EST

Even Charles Babington at the Associated Press, for once not the completely beholden Administration's Press, seemed to be having a hard time buying what Democrats at a meeting in Philadelphia were selling. Unfortunately, he decided to let Joe Biden's direct contradiction of his party's congressional delegation's sunnyside-up stance on the economy go unreported.

In a video carried at the Weekly Standard, Biden said, "To state the obvious, the past six years have been really, really hard for this country, And they've been really tough for our party. Just ask [former DCCC chair] Steve [Israel]. They've been really tough for our party. And together we made some really, really tough decisions -- decisions that weren't at all popular, hard to explain." Despite how "really, really hard" it has all been, the party is attempting an "in your face" at those who want to claim that it has been that way because of the Obama administration's economic policies. Excerpts from Babington's AP report follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 28, 2015 | 11:52 PM EST

If someone fools you once, shame on them. If they fool you with the same trick a second time, shame on you. If they "fool" you a third time — well, you must be in on it.

That's my take on Bloomberg News's virtually euphoric reaction to yesterday's new-home sales release from the Census Bureau. The wire service's Shobhana Chandra celebrated how seasonally adjusted December sales were at "the highest level in more than six years." The problem is that the bureau reported the same development two other times in 2014, only to see each improvement disappear in subsequent revisions. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):

By Tom Blumer | January 26, 2015 | 11:28 AM EST

It would seem that the conversation at Politico went something like this: "Hey, we need to hit the Obama administration for the havoc its policies have wreaked on the middle class. But we can't go after them too hard, because that might burn some bridges, and we'll lose our stenographer — er, journalistic — access. So we need to use someone sympathetic to Democrats who will know how not to go over the line."

They chose contributing editor Zachary Karabell, who during most of his writeup did a presentable job of being not too critical while posing as an objective observer — that is, until his final four paragraphs.

By Tom Blumer | January 23, 2015 | 4:46 PM EST

Someone looking at the annual "Union Members" report released this morning by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics would logically conclude that 2014 was a year organized labor would rather forget.

While average nonagricultural wage and salary employment increased by over 2.32 million from 2013 to 2014, union membership only went up by 48,000, or about 2 percent of the nationwide increase. Additionally, the private sector's 41,000-person pickup in union membership was only 1.6 percent of its total 2.55 million increase. Yes, that means that public-sector union membership increased a bit while public-sector employment declined by 226,000. Of course, no such decidedly negative nuggets made their way into Labor Secretary Tom Perez's press release or Tom Raum's Associated Press report, excerpts of which follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

By Mark Finkelstein | January 23, 2015 | 8:18 AM EST

On today's Morning Joe, commenting on the arrest of Dem NYS Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on bribery charges, Rattner claimed that "they don't pay these guys full-time salaries. They pay them, I think, $112,000 a year."  

By Tom Blumer | January 10, 2015 | 10:39 AM EST

Three results returned in a search at the Associated Press's national site on "Venezuela" tell us almost nothing about that country's deepening economic crisis.

An unbylined January 10 item reports on the visit of Nicolas Maduro, the country's de facto dictator, to Iran in hopes of "stabilizing" (i.e., raising) oil prices. A second unbylined report on January 9 tells readers that there's really nothing to worry (oh sure) about in China's growing Latin American influence. Only the faintest hint of the horrors everyday Venezuelans are now experiencing appeared on January 7. The following two paragraphs appeared at the very end of a report describing Maduro's visit to China:

By Clay Waters | January 2, 2015 | 9:05 PM EST

The big-government supporters at the New York Times offered two classic big-government news stories on the front of its Business section two days in a row. On Friday: "Government Spending, Edging Up, Is a Stimulus." The text box underlined the pro-government spending sentiment: "The public sector is once again adding to prosperity." On Thursday: "Hourly Wage Is Going Up for Millions." The online headline was biased: "States' Minimum Wages Rise, Helping Millions of Workers."

By Tom Blumer | January 2, 2015 | 7:29 AM EST

Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, who died on Thursday, is predictably being lionized today by USA Today's Aamer Madhani "as (a) giant in political rhetoric," and by others elsewhere in similarly glowing terms.

Madhani goes on to characterize the three-term Empire State chief executive's 1984 Democratic Convention speech in San Francisco as "what is widely considered one of the finest pieces of political rhetoric in recent memory." That it probably was. But he also calls it "a full-throated rebuttal of President Ronald Reagan, who would go on to a landslide victory over the Democratic nominee Walter Mondale." On that, Madhani is absolutely wrong. It was an attempt at a rebuttal which has since been thoroughly refuted and discredited.

By Tom Blumer | December 31, 2014 | 5:10 PM EST

Call the Ripley's Believe It or Not people. Have smelling salts available. What follows will surely be one of the more unusual things you've seen or heard this year.

In the midst of his otherwise odious Silicon Valley race-hustling shakedown effort, Jesse Jackson said something that made sense — so much sense that the rest of the press, which usually hangs on every word of his nonsensical pronouncements, has virtually ignored it, and will probably continue to.