This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight…
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Happy 40th to the Staggers Rail Act, Which Deregulated and Saved the U.S. Rail Industry

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which deregulated American freight rail and saved it from looming oblivion.

At the time of passage, the U.S. economy muddled along amid ongoing malaise, and our rail industry teetered due to decades of overly bureaucratic sclerosis.  Many other domestic U.S. industries had disappeared, and our railroads faced the same fate.  But by passing the Staggers Rail Act, Congress restored a deregulatory approach that in the 1980s allowed other U.S. industries to thrive.  No longer would government determine what services railroads could offer, their rates or their routes, instead restoring greater authority to the railroads themselves based upon cost-efficiency.

Today, U.S. rail flourishes even amid the coronavirus pandemic…[more]

October 13, 2020 • 11:09 PM

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Four Years In, the Obama "Recovery" Remains the Weakest in History Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, June 06 2013
By the numbers, what we're enduring constitutes the single most dismal recovery of the 11 recessions since World War II.

Four wearisome years ago this month, June 2009, the last recession officially ended. 

To put that into perspective, the first iPad didn’t appear on shelves for another year.  

That four-year anniversary will come as a surprise to most Americans, because what we’re enduring isn’t much of a recovery.  To wit, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released this week shows that almost 60% of Americans believe our economy remains in recession. 

One can hardly blame them for maintaining that belief, of course.  By the numbers, what we’re enduring constitutes the single most dismal recovery of the 11 recessions since World War II.  Over that seven-decade period, U.S. economic growth has averaged 3.2% annually.  That average spans both expansionary and recessionary periods, but growth following recessions naturally tends to be higher due to the “springback” effect.  In other words, we should now be experiencing higher growth right now, not lower growth.  Yet during the past four years, growth has only averaged 2.1%, more than a full percentage point below our historical norm. 

Making matters worse, we’re actually losing steam rather than accelerating.  In 2010 and again in 2011, gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.4%, but that rate slowed to just 1.5% in 2012.  And just this week, we received ominous news from the Institute for Supply Management’s official monthly manufacturing index.  The nation’s manufacturing sector shrank for the first time since November 2012, and plummeted to its lowest rate in over four years. 

Our employment picture remains just as dismal.  The civilian labor force participation rate has fallen to a 30-year low of 63.3%, which looks even worse when one considers that women were less likely to participate in the workforce back then.  And in the 11 post-war recoveries, it has taken an average of just 24 months to return to pre-recession employment levels.  Today, however, we remain 3 million jobs underwater some 48 months later.  As former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Edward Lazear observed: 

“The U.S. is not getting back many of the jobs that were lost during the recession.  At the present slow pace of job growth, it will require more than a decade to get back to full employment defined by prerecession standards.” 

Moreover, the only reason the nation’s unemployment rate has declined is that so many people have simply dropped out of the workforce and stopped looking.  At the same time, the number of Americans receiving food stamps has increased 70% to 47.8 million since Obama’s election, despite four years of “recovery.” 

Similarly, median household income remains below the pre-recession level.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, we’ve gone from $52,195 in 2009 to $50,054 in its most recent assessment. 

Responsibility for this awful state of affairs starts at the top.  After all, we’ve witnessed the highest federal spending in history, the largest deficits in history, the most aggressive regulatory onslaught in history and the boldest monetary policy in history.  If Obama’s economic platform worked, then we’d be enjoying the strongest recovery in history, not the weakest.  He certainly promised as much when implementing that platform. 

By way of contrast, nations like Germany and states like Texas have chosen a different path and prospered as a result. 

The Obama Administration and its defenders point to the stock and housing markets as signs of prosperity, but how accurate did those measures prove in 2007?  Moreover, those markets reflect record monetary expansion, a weak dollar and a dearth of alternatives more than any solid underlying economic foundation.  Others continue to assert the false claim that Obama’s failures somehow remain George Bush’s fault.   Given the fact that we’re now into Obama’s fifth year, however, anyone making that claim must by logic assert that George Bush’s failures were Bill Clinton’s fault, and that Clinton’s successes were rightly attributable to George H. W. Bush. 

Regardless, the economic facts speak louder than partisan rationalizations. 

So for the fifth consecutive year, get ready for promises of yet another elusive “Recovery Summer” from Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  But don’t try taking that to the bank. 

Question of the Week   
Which one of the following was the first 20th century presidential candidate to call for a Presidential Debate?
More Questions
Quote of the Day   
 
"Wait until Scranton hears about this.One of Joe Biden's ways of contrasting himself with President Trump has been to declare the election a battle of Park Avenue values vs. Scranton, Pa., values.Now we learn that Biden has secretly been playing footsie with China.The statement Wednesday night asserting that the former vice president was a willing and eager participant in a family scheme to make millions…[more]
 
 
—Michael Goodwin, New York Post
— Michael Goodwin, New York Post
 
Liberty Poll   

Do you believe you will be better off over the next four years with Joe Biden as president or with Donald Trump as president?