QUOTE OF THE DAY
New York Times: Washington’s Economic Boom, Financed by You
One damp morning this winter, Jim Abdo was looking through architectural renderings at his office in Logan Circle, one of the many leafy Washington neighborhoods anchored by a statue of a long-dead guy riding a horse. Abdo got his start as a property developer by buying decrepit buildings and modernizing them, and his headquarters shows off the trick. The adjoining storefronts had been stripped bare and rebuilt, all warm wood and cold glass with exposed brick and beams. It looked like a Brooklyn design studio or a Silicon Valley start-up, or at least how those offices might look in a Nancy Meyers movie. But Abdo has built his business in the unstylish land of think tanks and tepid salmon lunches and boxy women’s suits.
Abdo, a lithe and neat man with salt-and-pepper hair, was wearing jeans and a trim pullover and excitedly explaining how he was going to raze the office we were sitting in and replace it with more of his signature “luxury but affordable,” as he put it, rental units. He showed me a photograph of our location, a corner with a busy coffee shop with outdoor seating, a high-end rug store and the Abdo Development office. In the next slide, the buildings had been replaced by a handsome new glass-and-brick stack of a building, custom-built for white-collar professionals paying $3,000 in rent, all made possible by their low-level but cushy private-sector jobs. “We’re looking for those kids just out of law school who’ve come to Washington and they’re working 14 hours a day, but they want a place that isn’t a group house,” he said. “It’s for people who want to say, ‘I’ve arrived.’ ”
Forbes: A One-Percenter Gives Far More Than He Takes
Few have heard of George Mitchell, other than energy industry specialists and residents of The Woodlands – a model city Mitchell designed and developed from scratch north of Houston. But when history is told, Mitchell will have transformed the energy industry, the economy, environment, U.S. foreign policy, and geopolitics more than our self-declared “transformative” President. It is ironic that President Obama may owe his re election to a successful entrepreneur-risk taker, unappreciated in Obama’s world as one of those lucky people who “didn’t build it on their own.”
Obama’s lexicon automatically places Mitchell among the greedy one-percenters, who refuse to “give back to society” what they owe. Mitchell, however, has given back a thousand or a million fold. The federal government could pay him billions and still be in Mitchell’s debt. It was Mitchell, whose entrepreneurial spirit, risk taking, and perseverance gave us the fracking revolution.
Reuters: Louisiana Governor Jindal proposes ending state income tax
Republican Governor Bobby Jindal said on Thursday he wants to eliminate all Louisiana personal and corporate income taxes to simplify the state's tax code and make it more friendly to business.
The governor did not release details of his proposal, but his office released a statement confirming that the taxes are targets of a broader tax reform plan.
"Our goal is to eliminate all personal income tax and all corporate income tax in a revenue neutral manner," Jindal said in the statement.
He did not confirm reports that he will seek an increase in sales taxes in order to offset lost income tax revenue, but said: "We want to keep the sales tax as low and flat as possible."
Political analyst John Maginnis, who on Thursday reported in his email newsletter LaPolitics Weekly that Jindal will propose balancing the tax loss by raising the sales tax, now at 4 percent, said the strategy fits with the governor's interest in keeping a high national profile.
New York Times: Why the Unemployment Rate Is So High
According to the last jobs report for 2012, the United States labor market continues to recover at a steady but modest pace despite a global slowdown, Hurricane Sandy and anxieties about future fiscal policy. Private payrolls increased by two million in 2012, and the unemployment rate fell by 0.7 percentage point to 7.8 percent. Over the last 34 months, the economy has added 5.8 million jobs.
But that leaves a four million shortfall in employment relative to its 2007 peak. And the jobs gap, the number of jobs necessary to return to this peak and cover the growth in the labor force since then, is stuck around 11 million. The labor market is still far from full recovery, with a tremendous waste of human talent and a personal toll on unemployed workers and their families.
This year is likely to be more of the same, as the deal on the fiscal cliff - the American Taxpayer Relief Act - will take about 0.4 to 0.6 percent off the economy's growth rate.
Additional cuts in government spending later this year, above those already emanating from the cap on discretionary spending, would further restrain job creation. Proven policies to increase aggregate spending and near-term job growth, like the continuation of payroll tax relief and infrastructure investment, appear to be off the table. That's a mistake, because weak demand and slow growth of gross domestic product are the primary factors behind the tepid pace of job creation.
CNBC: Major Flu Outbreak Threatens to Slow Economy Further
One of the worst flu seasons in a decade is putting further strains on an already sluggish U.S. economy as companies get slammed with increased health care costs and lower productivity from widespread worker absences.
On average, seasonal flu outbreaks cost U.S. employers $10.4 billion in direct costs of hospitalization and outpatient visits, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That doesn't include the indirect costs related to lost productivity and worker absenteeism.
But this year, that figure is expected to go much higher, as the flu virus has shown up in some 41 states with 29 of them reporting high or severe levels of sickness as thousands are flooding into hospital emergency rooms and doctor's offices.
Vernon Hills Review: Vernon Hills praised in transparency study
The Illinois Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, studied the websites of municipalities in Vernon Township last summer and recently released its findings, giving passing grades to three of the 22 governments.
Transparency has been the project’s emphasis. Brian Costin, the institute’s director of government reform, said the Internet is becoming a prime place for information exchange and government accessibility needs to go digital.
CARTOON OF THE DAY