Archive for the 'Government' Category

The politics of the Supreme Court

By now, you know that one of the great Supreme Court justices in the history of our country passed away unexpectedly. Even those who disagreed with almost every decision Antonin Scalia ever cast had immense regard for him and his work. Indeed, Scalia and his liberal alter ego on the court, Justice Ginsberg, had been best friends for decades, even before they were on the nation’s highest court.

In our online poll this week, we asked you to weigh in on the debate about the process for replacing him. Here were the responses and my comments:

20% - The president should nominate a replacement and the Senate confirm this year.
23% - They should start the process to see if a replacement can be confirmed this year.
16% - The president should not nominate a replacement in his last year in office.
41% - Even if a replacement is nominated, the Senate should not confirm this year.

Only one-in-five of respondents to our first option think the president and Senate should just get along together and do their business this year. But there are circumstances that complicate this logical and Constitutional scenario, like ideological balance of the bench and the impending election to replace the sitting president. Kumbayah will not be part of this scenario

I kinda like the second group, representing almost one-fourth of our sample, because they’re saying, regardless of the politics, both parties should just give it their best shot in the process of doing their job. Everyone knows the president is going to nominate and the Senate is likely going to reject. So quit jawboning and get to work.

The third group is the smallest, with 16%, who think the president should just stand down on this issue, since he’s out the door in less than a year. But even though he likely knows he’s not going to get a nominee confirmed, he will at least be able to use the rejection to help his party. It’s politics, and any president of either party would do it.

The largest group, at 41%, is the most troubled by the imbalance of the Supreme Court. They’re counting on a party change in the White House next year, and maintaining the majority party in the Senate. For now this group, and the Senate, are in the catbird seat.

Just when you thought the political season couldn’t get any weirder or more complicated, with a socialist and a billionaire running for president, the arch-conservative Justice on a tightly divided Court dies, leaving his replacement up to a president who is his polar opposite politically. As I’ve written before, we continue to live the Chinese Curse: May you live in interesting times.

To take this week’s poll on the US economy and your small business sales in Q1, click here.

Poll results: Which of the frontrunners would you vote for?

The Question:
It’s the week before the Iowa caucuses. Which of the frontrunner of the two parties would you vote for?

4% - Hillary Clinton
7% - Bernie Sanders
44% - Donald Trump
25% - Ted Cruz
20% - If these are my choices, I won’t vote.

Jim’s Comments:
So, there you have it. The Small Business Advocate Iowa Straw Poll results.

First, you have to notice that small business owners are heavily weighted toward the GOP. When asked why, they typically say, “Because I make payroll twice a month.”

Second, the two troublemakers, Bernie and The Donald, are the frontrunners in their parties. Surely this who-woulda-thunk-it scenario will be the stuff of books and civics lessons for years to come.

Finally, for those of you who support the Democrat O’Malley, or Bush, Rubio or any of the other Republicans, please forgive me for leaving them out of the survey. We just didn’t have room other than to offer the “anyone else” option at the end. Even so, with only 20% choosing this line, it looks like the choices were offered were justified, as they align pretty well with the national polls.

I’m looking forward to our edition next week where we’ll compare our numbers with the actuals of the caucuses. Stay tuned.

And thanks for your abiding support of our poll each week. Check out our new one below.
Poll: Do you think your business is prepared to be relevant and competitive into the next decade?

Poll Results: What grade would you give President Obama?

The Question:
From the standpoint of the impact on your business, what grade would you give President Obama for his time in office?

5% - A
6% - B
6% - C
9% - D
74% - F

Jim’s Comments:
As you can see, President Obama is a failure to three-fourths of our small business audience. It’s been clear from day one that the president has been ambivalent to the Main Street economy atbest, and against us at worst. In seven years in office, the only policy he’s proposed that looks anything like pro-business is the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal he cut last year.

On the other side of the coin, the anti-business stuff is a long list, which I’m going to innumerate in an article in the near future. Stay tuned. Thanks for participating.

And thanks for your abiding support of our poll each week. Check out our new one on how you would vote today, click here.

To listen to more about these poll results, click on the link below.

Small business owners have give Obama a grade

Is 2016 trending as the year of our next recession?

One of the distinct markers of the United States is what has been termed our “consumer economy.”

It’s pretty intuitive.

Having a consumer economy means that the main driver of GDP (gross domestic product), and therefore, the engine of economic growth, comes from spending by consumers. Other major elements that make up the entire U.S. economy include private investment, government spending and trade.

America is not unique in this distinction, but no other major economy in the world compares to the U.S. in this definition. For example, American consumers represented 71% of GDP in 2013, having risen from 62% in 1960. Around the globe, Japanese consumers are 61% of their economy, with only 36% in China. And in the major European countries, consumers average less than 60% of GDP.

The U.S. has experienced an increasingly robust consumer economy for generations. But one of the implications that has arisen for, let’s say, the past half century is that consumers are more likely to spend their money than save it. There are many reasons for this imbalance: America is the strongest economy in the world; has a diverse credit industry with creative products; and produces and imports a lot of cool stuff, which Americans want even if they have to borrow, instead of save, to get it.

The world economy has long benefited from the exuberance, rational or not, of the U.S. consumer. Indeed, during the global slowdown of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the U.S. consumer almost single-handedly kept the global economy from collapsing. But today, with a declining global economic scenario, will American consumers reprise their earlier role as economic champion? A new data point may provide that answer.

Recently, in our online poll, we asked small business owners if the significant drop in gasoline prices ($1/gallon in six months) was manifesting as increased spending by their customers. Less than one-fourth of our respondents reported such a trend was evident or slightly evident, while almost half said they saw no such evidence.

One of the reasons for the consistent moribund U.S. economy since 2008 has been the debt-reducing behavior of both American businesses and consumers. But it now seems the consumer’s cash conservatism continues unabated because, in addition to our poll results, other surveys indicate people are using the gas price dividend to reduce debt and save.

During the first quarters of 2014 and 2015 the U.S. economy went negative, producing one half of a technical recession, while the Dow Jones Index rose to new record highs. But 2016 has begun with stock indexes retrenching toward bear territory, a decline in both imports and exports, and no apparent help from consumers. Consequently, a negative Q1 this year may prove to be just the first one, rather than a one-off like the past two years.

Write this on a rock … The best way to not participate in a recession is to be prepared for one.

POLL RESULTS: New Obamacare compliance is coming for small businesses in 2016. Do you know how it applies to you?

The Question:

New Obamacare compliance is coming for small businesses in 2016. Do you know how it applies to you?

11% - I am prepared to comply with new Obamacare rules.
9% - I am not yet in compliance, but know what to do.
23% - I am not in compliance, and still don’t know what to do.
57% - My business does not have to comply with Obamacare.
Jim’s Comments:
Most small businesses have fewer than 50 employees, which is currently below the criteria for having to comply with Obamacare under the employer mandate. So I’m not surprised to see that our sample responded with 57% in this category.
But I am surprised to see that about a third of our folks still aren’t yet in compliance. The reason is likely that we’ve all seen how many times the law has been unilaterally changed by the Obama administration — more than 30 since 2010 — including moving compliance date deadlines. Why jump through a bunch of hoops if you don’t have to, right?

However, I think Obamacare is where it’s going to be for now, so if you have to be in compliance, either do so or know your exposure for non-compliance. Good luck.

Thanks for your abiding support of our poll each week. Check out our new one below.

http://survey.constantcontact.com/poll/a07ec20m7kriiucwr57/start.html

POLL RESULTS: If you watched the last GOP debate, what did you think about how CNBC moderated it?

The Question:

If you watched the last GOP debate, what did you think about how CNBC moderated it?

0% - I thought CNBC handled the debate just right.
79% - A profound demonstration of liberal media bias against Republicans.
10% - Some questions were inappropriate, but overall it was handled well.
11% - Didn’t watch.

Jim’s Comments:
Not surprised that John Harwood was so snarky toward the Republican candidates in the CNBC debate. And not surprised Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla looked like lightweights. But was surprised CNBC didn’t rise above the slant of their mothership, NBC, and do the job they were supposed to do: moderate a debate about the economic positions of the candidates.
If eight-of-ten of our respondents saw the blatant bias, so did millions of viewers. In their attempt to diminish the stature of the Republicans, the moderators revealed the pervasive mainstream media bias and how it often manifests as small and unprofessional behavior.
And talk about irony. CNBC’s moderating performance was so bad, it actually helped the Republicans.
Thanks for playing along. Please participate in this week’s poll below.
http://survey.constantcontact.com/poll/a07ebt51vt8igo658b9/start.html



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