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Post by thelivyjr »


"Even Democrats now agree: Biden is too old for his job"

Opinion by Jeff Jacoby

22 June 2022

Playing the age card against an elderly opponent is a familiar maneuver in American politics.

Joe Biden knows all about that.

When he first ran for the US Senate from Delaware in 1972, he was a 29-year-old challenging an incumbent 33 years his senior.

Republican Senator Cale Boggs had first won election to Congress in 1946, and Biden did his best to paint his opponent, politely but pointedly, as washed up.

Boggs was a “helluva nice guy,” Biden would tell reporters, but he “has lost that twinkle in his eyes” and was “just not a fighter.”

He ran ads none-too-subtly painting the incumbent as a relic from a bygone era.

“In 1950 Cale Boggs hoped to make Americans safe from Stalin."

"In 1972 Joe Biden hopes to make Americans safe from criminals,” declared one ad.

“To Cale Boggs an unfair tax was the 1948 poll tax."

"To Joe Biden an unfair tax is the 1972 income tax,” said another.

Decades later, when Biden was Barack Obama’s running mate, it was John McCain whose age became a political issue.

In a TV spot, the Obama/Biden campaign played up McCain’s decades on Capitol Hill, jeering his supposed inability to send an e-mail or use a computer.

“Things have changed in the last 26 years,” intoned the narrator, “but McCain hasn’t.”

Now it’s Biden’s turn.

He is by a significant margin the oldest man ever elected president.

At 79, just 17 months in office, he is older than any of his predecessors were at the end of their presidency.

When Ronald Reagan stepped down after eight years in the White House, he was two weeks shy of his 78th birthday and showing unmistakable signs of decline and fatigue.

(Five years later, he would be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.)

Biden, too, shows unmistakable signs of decline and fatigue, and it’s no longer taboo to say so.

To be sure, Republicans made much of Biden’s age during the presidential campaign.

But now even his Democratic supporters and allies talk about how much he has lost off his fastball.

In a Page 1 story last week, The New York Times noted that in interviews with dozens of Democratic officials across the country, “nearly all” said Biden’s age is causing “deep concern about his political viability.”

Writing in The Atlantic a few days later, Mark Leibovich remarked that if Biden had been an airline pilot, he would now be in his 15th year of retirement.

Had he been an air traffic controller, he would have had to retire at 56.

Federal regulations mandate compulsory departure times for those jobs because they are “life-and-death tasks that demand peak stamina and mental acuity."

"The pressure can be crushing [and] burnout is rampant.”

Needless to say, the presidency is an even higher-pressure, higher-demand, higher-stakes position.

Hence Leibovich’s bottom line: “Joe Biden should not run for reelection in 2024."

"He is too old.”

A growing number of voters agree.

In a Harvard-Harris poll last month, 62 percent of respondents said Biden “is showing he is too old to be president” and 53 percent said they have doubts about his mental fitness for office.

Among independents, those numbers were even higher — 72 percent (“too old”) and 61 percent (“doubts about his fitness”).

Politically and physically, this isn’t a problem from which Biden can recover.

There will be more and more moments in which he appears to be disoriented or abruptly loses his train of thought.

He will continue to make unscripted policy announcements that his staff will quickly walk back.

As it is, he does almost no extended interviews with journalists, and he holds far fewer press conferences than his last five predecessors.

That won’t change.

It is good that Biden’s fellow Democrats are now talking openly about the toll old age is taking on his abilities.

That will reduce the instinct to treat the issue as a partisan attack and make it easier for the party to begin searching for a younger standard-bearer for 2024.

It will also make it easier for Republicans to acknowledge that Donald Trump — who is only three years younger than Biden — is also too old to run for another term.

Like the incumbent he deposed to win a Senate seat, Biden may be a “helluva nice guy,” but he is visibly past his prime.

For the sake of his party and his country, he should take himself out of the 2024 race — not from a lack of ambition but from an abundance of statesmanship.

Jeff Jacoby is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jeff_jacoby. To subscribe to Arguable, his weekly newsletter, visit ... 51f1325db6
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Post by thelivyjr »


"When will the media stop shamelessly prostrating itself before Hillary Clinton?"

Opinion by Merrill Matthews, Opinion Contributor

21 JUNE 2022

Another major media interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, another missed opportunity to ask Clinton about her role in the Russian collusion scam.

Edward Luce, the U.S. national editor for the Financial Times (FT), recently interviewed Clinton over lunch at a Washington hotel.

FT published parts of the interview on June 18.

Like virtually every other reporter with the mainstream media, Luce asked mostly softball questions and never asked about what she knew and when she knew it with respect to her campaign’s financing of the now-discredited Steele dossier.

It isn’t that Luce is unaware of the allegations.

As an aside, he notes that the interview took place on the day a Clinton campaign legal adviser, Michael Sussmann, was acquitted of the charge “that he improperly influenced the FBI to investigate links between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.”

But the big news from the Sussmann trial was that Clinton’s former campaign manager, Robby Mook, testified that Clinton knew and approved the Steele dossier project in an effort to undermine Donald Trump.

George Washington Law School Professor Jonathan Turley outlined the whole scheme in The Hill: “(T)here was her former campaign manager, Robby Mook, telling a jury that Clinton personally approved a plan to spread the claim of covert communications between the Trump organization and the Russian bank.”

The tentacles of this scheme eventually led to falsely accusing several other people of collusion, an FBI agent lying to the FISA Court, widespread media promotion as if it were a true story and eventually a special counsel, Robert Mueller, who spent two years and millions of taxpayer dollars investigating the allegations only to find no evidence of Russian collusion.

Turley concludes: “It was one of the most successful disinformation campaigns in American politics, and Mook implicated Clinton as green-lighting the gas-lighting of the electorate.”

And did I mention that last March it was reported that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) fined the Clinton campaign $8,000 and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) $105,000 for “failing to properly report money spent on research for the dossier”?

The Clinton campaign paid $175,000 and the DNC paid more than $849,000 for what they falsely claimed were “legal services,” when what they were really doing was funding the Steele dossier.

Clinton’s paying the fine was a tacit admission of guilt.

Shouldn’t those facts make a reporter curious?

Not Luce.

If he asked Clinton about those issues, they don’t appear in his rather fawning interview.

In fact, Clinton has conducted several public interviews in the past few months (e.g., with “PBS NewsHour’s” Judy Woodruff and on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”) to talk about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, women’s rights and other issues.

She also talked with NPR’s Scott Simon last October.

The reporters and interviewers often asked for her thoughts on the state of democracy in the United States.

Not one of those interviewers or others that I have seen has brought up Clinton’s involvement and funding of the Steele dossier.

Or as Turley so vividly put it, her “green-lighting the gas-lighting of the electorate.”

But they have given her time to express her deep concerns about democracy in the United States, and she gladly embraces the opportunity.

The Financial Times’ Luce quotes Clinton as saying at the end of the interview.

“We are standing on the precipice of losing our democracy, and everything that everybody else cares about then goes out the window.”

I think it’s fair to say that most mainstream media journalists, if given the chance to interview Trump, would press him about his false claims that he won the 2020 election.

They would see that as a journalistic duty, and they would be right.

But those same journalists, when given the chance to interview Clinton, seem too enamored and thankful to be in the great lady’s presence to bring up her own role in undermining democracy.

Luce ends the interview with this Clinton quote, “Look, the most important thing is to win the next election."

"The alternative is so frightening that whatever does not help you win should not be a priority.”

Clinton took extraordinary steps to try to win the 2016 election.

Should “whatever does not help you win should not be a priority” be a warning to all of us about steps she or others may take in 2022 — or 2024?

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter @MerrillMatthews. ... 51f1325db6
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Post by thelivyjr »


"White House rallies around 'not inevitable' line as recession fears grow"

Haisten Willis

21 JUNE 2022

The White House has spent the last few days repeating that a recession is "not inevitable" despite economists and most people seeming to think the economy is headed that way.

President Joe Biden, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have all repeated in recent days that a recession isn't imminent while touting positive aspects of the economy.

"First of all, it's not inevitable," Biden told the Associated Press last week.

"Secondly, we're in a stronger position than any nation in the world to overcome this inflation."

The president followed that up Monday morning by saying he'd spoken with former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who himself is predicting a recession, and repeating that "there's nothing inevitable about a recession."

Deese said during a Sunday appearance on CBS's Face the Nation that "not only is a recession not inevitable, but I think that a lot of people are underestimating those strengths and the resilience of the American economy."

He pointed to increased household savings and low numbers of people skipping credit card and mortgage payments as evidence.

The same day, Yellen told ABC News, "I don't think a recession is at all inevitable," while conceding that the economy is likely to slow going forward and that inflation is unacceptably high.

Despite the trio's words, a recent poll found that more than 60% of CEOs globally said they expect a recession before the end of 2023, which echoes the prediction made by Summers.

A recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product growth.

The first quarter of 2022 has already been deemed negative, so a recession could be confirmed when second-quarter numbers are released next month.

For this reason, many pundits say the R-word is already upon us.

"We're already in recession," said conservative economist Stephen Moore.

"The last six months of growth has been negative."

"The ship is capsizing, and the captain is saying everything is all right rather than getting the life jackets on."

"Employment may go negative in the next few months due to hiring freezes and layoffs."

"Housing sales have come to a standstill."

It's always up for debate how much influence any president has over the economy.

Nonetheless, presidents often take credit for economic growth and take blame from voters when it slows.

Biden’s job approval rating on the economy is just 34%, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

Yet Biden continues to insist that a recession may not be in the cards — and he persists in downplaying those who say it's likely.

"No, the majority of them aren't saying that," the president said Monday in a response to a question about a recession being "more likely than ever."

"Don't make things up," he continued.

"Now you sound like a Republican politician."

"That's a joke — that was a joke."

The odds of a recession have surged to 72%, according to Bloomberg Economics models, as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to counter inflation.

The Fed announced last week that it would hike its benchmark interest rate by 0.75%, marking the largest single increase since 1994.

Despite the growing fears, or perhaps because of them, Democratic strategist Brad Bannon feels it's important for the White House to reassure the public of the economy's strengths.

"Most Americans do believe we're in a recession now, and if we're not, I think it's good for the administration to say that," he said.

"It may not impress a lot of people, but the unemployment rate is ridiculously low."

"There are a lot of good things happening with the economy."

Biden is still trying to get some of his agenda through Congress, such as efforts to lower prescription drug prices, provide tax incentives to reduce utility bills, and raise taxes on corporations.

Bannon says working to get such a deal passed and talking about it are the most important things the president can do now to help his standing with voters in November.

"It will all depend on what the economy looks like," he said of the midterm elections.

"If we're in a serious recession, obviously it's going to hurt the Democrats." ... 51f1325db6
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Biden approval falls fourth straight week, tying record low - Reuters/Ipsos"

By Rose Horowitch

22 JUNE 2022

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's public approval rating fell for a fourth straight week to 36% matching its lowest level last seen in late May, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll completed on Wednesday.

The president's approval rating has stayed below 50% since August, a warning sign that his Democratic Party could lose control of at least one chamber of the U.S. Congress in the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

Thirty-four percent of Americans say the economy is the most important issue currently facing the United States.

Biden has been plagued by 40-year-highs in inflation, with Russia's invasion of Ukraine restricting global fuel supply and supply chains still constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among his own party, Biden's approval rating remains largely unchanged since last week - at 73% compared to 74% on June 15.

In August, 85% of Democrats approved of Biden's performance.

But among Republicans, Biden's rating slipped to 7% compared to 11% on June 15.

Only 18% of Americans think the country is headed in the right direction.

Biden's approval rating is approaching - but has not yet reached - the lowest levels seen by his predecessor, Donald Trump, who had a 33% approval rating in December 2017.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll is conducted online in English throughout the United States.

The most recent poll gathered responses from 1,002 adults, including 435 Democrats and 379 Republicans.

It has a credibility interval - a measure of precision - of four percentage points.

(Reporting by Rose Horowitch; Editing by Scott Malone and Sandra Maler) ... 59982ea970
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Post by thelivyjr »

City AM

"Inflation jumps to 9.1 per cent: Worried City insiders respond to consumer prices climbing again"

Michiel Willems

22 June 2022

The rate of inflation rose again in May, remaining at 40-year highs, the Office for National Statistics said this morning.

The rate of Consumer Prices Index inflation rose slightly to 9.1 per cent in May from 9 per cent in April, according to the ONS.

The increase matches what analysts had expected.

“Though still at historically high levels, the annual inflation rate was little changed in May,” said ONS chief economist Grant Fitzner.

“Continued steep food price rises and record high petrol prices were offset by clothing costs rising by less than this time last year, and a drop in often fluctuating computer games prices.”

“The price of goods leaving factories rose at their fastest rate in 45 years, driven by widespread food price rises, while the cost of raw materials leapt at their fastest rate on record.”

In response, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said this morning: “I know that people are worried about the rising cost of living, which is why we have taken targeted action to help families, getting £1,200 to the eight million most vulnerable households.

“We are using all the tools at our disposal to bring inflation down and combat rising prices – we can build a stronger economy through independent monetary policy, responsible fiscal policy which doesn’t add to inflationary pressures, and by boosting our long-term productivity and growth.”

In response to the news, several Square Mile insiders discussed with City A.M. what this means businesses, investors and ordinary Brits.

“There are no signs yet of inflation receding,” sighed Yael Selfin, Chief Economist at KPMG UK, this morning.   

He added that “rising inflation is putting further pressure on policymakers to ease the burden on households, while complicating the Bank of England’s task."

"As the economy enters a period of weaker growth, a more aggressive increase in interest rates could see the Bank of England undershoot its target in the medium term.”

Household finances

“A further spike in inflation was expected – but this will offer little comfort to struggling households, particularly as wages aren’t keeping up,” said Connor Campbell at NerdWallet said.

“Clearly, the government must go beyond one-off financial support and develop a long-term economic recovery plan to help the UK emerge from its current economic predicament."

"Not all households, however, can afford to wait for such measures to be announced,” Campbell added.

He added: “There is no quick fix to the cost-of-living crisis."

"However, Britons should know that there are tools available to provide some short-term relief."

"And such action could set them on the right track towards regaining some control over their finances.”


Jatin Ondhia, CEO of FCA-regulated investment platform Shojin, told City A.M. this morning: “Prices are rising faster than they have for four decades and while May’s CPI figures represent little change from last month’s record hike, the tide remains strong and is set to continue rising, which could push inflation into double figures towards the end of the year.”

Ondhia noted that “the combination of sustained and high inflationary pressure with sharp rate rises and generally tighter monetary policy constitutes a radically different macroeconomic environment, posing a serious threat to investment returns and consumers’ finances.”

As the global economic outlook darkens, investors must take the time to reassess their inflation toolbox and consider which assets are likely to help cushion their portfolios against further hikes, he added.

Property and mortgages

Zooming in on the housing market, Annabelle Williams, personal finance specialist at digital wealth manager Nutmeg, said: “After a 2 percentage point rise from March to April, you could be forgiven for thinking the more muted increase from April to May would come as some light relief.”

She stressed that “while most Britons with a mortgage are on a fixed-rate deal, rate rises will be difficult for those on variable rates and people hoping to either move home or buy their first place.”

“Hopeful home-buyers and movers ought to get their skates on, because any further interest rate rises will affect affordability."

"Lack of supply in the housing market may keep prices high.”

“It’s too soon to call definitively whether there will be a recession in the UK this year, but the ducks are getting into a row."

"The economy may begin to teeter on the edge of a recession by the end of the summer,” she added.

International markets

Giles Coghlan, Chief Analyst, HYCM said: “If today’s CPI print tells us one thing, it is that the UK’s economic outlook looks very bleak indeed."

"With forecasts suggesting that GDP will head into negative territory for 2023, the Bank of England has an impossible task on its hands.”

Coghlan thinks that “without adequate quantitative tightening, the Monetary Policy Committee risks inflation spiralling wildly out of control and causing a wage-price spiral, which would be disastrous for the economy.

“As today’s inflation data came in just a fraction below the market’s maximum expectations of 9.3 per cent year-on-year, traders and investors should therefore watch for yet more aggressive action from the Monetary Policy Committee in August,” he continued.

“Ultimately, policymakers have very little choice other than to hike interest rates to bring down inflation.”

Predictions are currently suggesting that inflation could top 11 per cent this year – this, combined with the Ofgem cap rise due in October, means that the risk of a recession is looking more and more probable by the moment.

“Before the release of the inflation print, the short-term interest rate (STIR) markets were pricing in a 86% chance of a 50bps rate hike for the central bank’s August 04 meeting, so investors will no doubt be awaiting a hawkish response from the BoE,” Coghlan said.


Discussing the latest inflation figures, Mohsin Rashid, co-founder of ZIPZERO, said: “Consumers are being battered on all sides."

"If you delve beyond today’s data about the eyewatering rate of inflation, the figures make for ugly reading: annual spending on food is expected to rise £380 this year, while energy bills are on track to pass £3,000 for the first time ever.”

Rashid stressed that “savvy financial management is important, yes."

"But to think consumers can work their way through such a challenging economic climate on their own is foolish."

"Businesses must do more – namely, retailers and energy providers.”

He added: “Positively, there’s a solution."

"Each year, retailers and brands spend a whopping £27bn on digital marketing."

"This money could be redirected back to consumers in the form of cash rewards from their everyday shopping, helping them to pay their spiralling energy bills.”

“This can only work if retailers and energy providers operate together on the same platform."

"Retailers can engage directly with shoppers, offering cash rewards from purchases; these cash rewards can then be used by shoppers to pay their energy bills.” ... 59982ea970
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Fed chairman contradicts Biden, says Russia’s Ukraine invasion not the main inflation driver"

Bradford Betz

22 JUNE 2022

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday appeared to contract President Biden’s repeated insistence that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the primary driver behind inflation in the U.S.

During a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., got Powell to admit that inflation was high well before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Hagerty noted that in December 2021, inflation has risen to 7% – up from 1.4% in January 2021, when President Biden took office.

Since Russian tanks rolled across the border of Ukraine, inflation has risen incrementally to its current level of 8.6%.

With these statistics stated, Hagerty asked Powell if he believed the war in Ukraine was the "primary driver" of inflation as the Biden administration has tried to portray.

"No inflation was high … certainly before the war in Ukraine broke out," Powell said.

"I’m glad to hear you say that."

"The Biden administration seems to be intent on deflecting blame," Hagerty said, noting that as recently as Sunday, the administration "spread the misinformation that Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was the ‘biggest single driver of inflation.’"

"I’m glad you agree with me that that is not the truth," Hagerty told Powell.

Powell has sought to reassure the public that the Fed will raise interest rates high and fast enough to quell inflation, without tightening credit so much as to throttle the economy and cause a recession.

The central bank's accelerating rate increases – it started with a quarter-point hike in its key short-term rate in March, then a half-point increase in May, then three-quarters of a point last week – has alarmed investors and led to sharp declines in the financial markets.

Powell's testimony comes exactly a week after the Fed announced its three-quarters-of-a-point increase, its biggest hike in nearly three decades, to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%.

With inflation at a 40-year high, the Fed's policymakers also forecast a more accelerated pace of rate hikes this year and next than they had predicted three months ago, with its key rate reaching 3.8% by the end of 2023. That would be its highest level in 15 years.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. ... 59982ea970
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Biden abuses executive authority to pursue his environmental agenda"

Maiya Clark

22 JUNE 2022

Plagued by inflation, a projected upcoming Republican wave in the midterm elections, and high gas prices, President Joe Biden is desperately seeking a win on clean energy.

To achieve that win, he has authorized the inappropriate use of the Defense Production Act — an egregious misuse of executive power.

Last Monday, Biden announced that he authorized use of the Defense Production Act to speed up the domestic production of clean energy technologies — like solar panels and heat pumps — for use in buildings.

The Defense Production Act gives the president a broad set of authorities to influence domestic industry in the interest of national defense.

Since it was passed at the start of the Korean War, the act has served as a valuable federal statute to ensure that, when called upon, the domestic industrial base is capable of providing essential materials and goods needed for the national defense.

Over the years, Congress broadened “national defense” to include national emergencies, like pandemics, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters.

Biden’s latest actions, however, strain the definition of national defense past the point of credulity.

He has authorized the act to serve his political goals — in this case, a radical environmental agenda.

Last year, Biden’s $2.2 trillion Build Back Better bill, which included billions in clean energy programs, failed to pass in Congress.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who killed Biden’s landmark legislation, stated that part of his opposition to the bill was due to its climate and clean energy provisions, saying they “risk the reliability of our electric grid and increase our dependence on foreign supply chains.”

In this latest executive action, Biden has ignored Manchin’s objections and decided to pursue his agenda without the approval of Congress.

Biden’s misuse of Defense Production Act allocated funds is nothing new.

For example, the Obama administration’s 2012 invocation of the Defense Production Act to advance the production of biofuel was packaged as providing energy security for America’s warfighters.

However, it soon became clear that the flawed project had nothing to do with national defense, and everything to do with a radical and expensive (the Biofuel Production Project was allotted $230.5 million) environmental agenda.

Now, in a similar initiative, Biden has authorized the Department of Energy to use the Defense Production Act “to strengthen the resiliency of the nation’s supply chain” for solar, transformers and electric grid components, heat pumps, insulation, electrolyzers, fuel cells, and platinum group metals.

The administration has failed to justify how solar panels could meaningfully contribute to the national defense, even under an expanded definition of national defense.

According to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, “For too long the nation’s clean energy supply chain has been over-reliant on foreign sources and adversarial nations.”

Likewise, according to the deputy defense secretary, Kathleen Hicks, “reducing America’s dependence on gas and oil is critical to U.S. national security.”

OK — so the policy is go green by investing in domestic solar manufacturing and we will become more energy independent and less reliant on foreign adversaries.

So, does a transition from oil and gas to solar panels make us less reliant on foreign sources and adversarial nations, thereby strengthening our national security?

The answer is simple: No!

This is plainly obvious by the administration’s decision to, in tandem with the Defense Production Act authorization to stimulate solar panel manufacturing, potentially make it easier for solar companies in the U.S. to import cheaper Chinese-made solar parts from Southeast Asia.

Biden’s two-year halt on new solar tariffs will allow domestic project developers to continue using foreign-made equipment while U.S. manufacturing presumably ramps up using taxpayer funds through the Defense Production Act.

Americans benefit from being able to access the most competitive technologies to meet their energy needs.

But the president’s supposed national security reasoning is just a red herring to manipulate energy markets to his preferred technology.

According to his order, we will simply be shifting our foreign reliance on energy from global oil markets to Asian solar components, while ignoring that solar energy is not a perfect replacement for oil in meeting peoples’ energy needs.

Thus, on the false pretense that clean energy strengthens national security by decreasing our reliance on foreign sources and adversarial nations, the Biden administration misused its authority with the Defense Production Act, and the U.S. is still reliant on foreign sources and a new adversarial nation — China.

So, this is bad energy policy, terrible trade policy, and even worse defense policy given that we will now be more dependent on China, which Secretary of State Anthony Blinken just called the “most serious long-term threat” to the world order.

Biden’s misuse of the Defense Production Act is all the more frustrating in light of the real, urgent national security needs the act could be used to address.

U.S. munitions stocks are being depleted as Javelin and Stinger missiles are being sent to Ukraine, and industry says it will take years to manufacture enough to replenish those stocks.

The Defense Production Act could force industry to prioritize those contracts and could provide funds to increase manufacturing capacity.

Instead, in choosing to pursue environmental pet projects, this administration is demonstrating a lack of seriousness about our national defense — at a time when the country cannot afford to be anything but serious. ... 59982ea970
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Biden's call for Congress to suspend federal gas taxes is landing with a thud with everyone ranging from McConnell to Pelosi" (Joseph Zeballos-Roig)

22 JUNE 2022

* Biden called on Congress to suspend federal gas taxes for three months on Wednesday.

* But he has very few allies to count on in Congress.

* Schumer and Pelosi didn't endorse the plan and McConnell panned it.

President Joe Biden urged Congress on Wednesday to suspend the 18 cent federal gas tax and a 24 cent per gallon tax on diesel for three months in an effort to slash rising prices at the gas pump.

It comes as the national average for a gallon of gas hovers around $5 with no sign of dropping anytime soon.

"Today I'm calling on Congress to suspend the Federal gas tax for the next 90 days, through the busy summer season, busy travel season," he said on Wednesday.

Biden also urged states to cut gas taxes on their own as well to provide Americans with additional financial relief.

But he has very few allies to count on in Capitol Hill, rendering it all but dead on arrival.

Many in his own party are bolting from the idea and Republicans are deriding it as an election-year gimmick that won't do much to bring down high gas prices.

Economists have long viewed the idea with skepticism as well.

"Whatever you thought of the merits of a gas tax holiday in February it is a worse idea now," Jason Furman, a former top economist to President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter.

In recent months, the White House has taken steps to boost oil supply such as ordering a massive release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, paired with an easing of regulations on biofuels.

But that has done little to quell the inflationary surge in gas prices, largely stemming from Western sanctions on Russia's energy sector to punish the Kremlin for invading Ukraine.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi poured cold water on the plan in March when some Senate Democrats started floating it.

She said at the time that there was no guarantee that consumers would be able to pocket much of the savings.

"We will see where the consensus lies on a path forward for the President's proposal in the House and the Senate," she said in a Wednesday statement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer similarly declined to endorse Biden's and didn't commit to putting a bill on the floor.

Other Democrats were not on board either.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a conservative Democrat with outsized influence over Biden's agenda, said he was uneasy with the idea.

"I'm not a yes right now, that's for sure," Manchin told ABC News.

Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware called it on Twitter a "shortsighted and inefficient way to provide relief."

Republicans were uniformly against it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell assailed it and said "this administration's big new idea is a silly proposal that senior members of his own party have already shot down well in advance." ... 032bba94c0
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Oil Falls as Recession Fears Escalate"

by Bloomberg | Julia Fanzeres

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Oil dropped as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony before a House committee heightened concerns of an impending recession.

West Texas Intermediate dropped to near $104 a barrel, with prices having shed more than 10% in the last week.

Powell said his commitment to fight inflation is “unconditional.”

Warnings about a potential recession and economic slowdown have overshadowed oil market fundamentals that indicate a growing supply crunch.

Crude’s recent swings have been too volatile for many traders.

Open interest across the main futures contracts has fallen to the lowest since 2015 in recent days.

“Future demand destruction from a possible looming recession is countering near-term real demand that remains very strong,” said Dennis Kissler, senior vice president of trading at BOK Financial.

“As long as the fear of a recession remains, the near-term strong demand is keeping crude choppy.”

Updated statistics on the state of US inventories won’t be released this week.

The Energy Information Administration’s stockpile report is delayed after a power disruption damaged some of the agency’s hardware.

As a result, markets will have to rely on a US industry report to parse out weekly inventory data.

The American Petroleum Institute reported crude holdings rose by 5.6 million barrels last week, while gasoline holdings also climbed, according to people familiar with the data.

Over the past two weeks, oil has been rapidly giving up gains in what’s been a volatile quarter as investors attempt to gauge the trajectory of the global economy and its impact on raw materials.

There’s about a 50% chance the world economy will succumb to a recession, according to Citigroup Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG.


WTI August delivery fell $1.92 to settle at $104.27 in New York.

Brent for August settlement declined $1.69 to settle at $110.05 a barrel.

There’s still little consensus among major banks on the outlook for oil.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said in a note Tuesday that demand is still running ahead of supply, while warning that the Fed “cannot print commodities.”

Citi sees crude dropping through this year and beyond.

So far, there’s only been limited relief in refined product markets -- where bigger surges have occurred.

Diesel futures in Europe closed Wednesday at more than $57 a barrel higher than crude, a record in data since 2011.

(with assistance from Alex Longley) ... 3-article/
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Post by thelivyjr »


"Shipping Costs Soar"

by Bloomberg | Elizabeth Low

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The dislocation of global fuel markets after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has boosted the cost of shipping products such as diesel by sea.

Rates to haul fuels such as gasoline and diesel, known in the industry as clean tanker freight, have more than doubled this year to the highest since April 2020, according to Baltic Exchange data.

On one key route in Asia, ship owners are now earning over $47,000 a day transporting products from South Korea to the distribution hub of Singapore, compared with $98 a day prior to the war.

The Russian invasion has exacerbated a tightening of energy markets, upending trade flows and forcing buyers to scour the world for alternative fuel supplies.

An initial surge in rates for hauling crude hasn’t been sustained, partly due to reduced demand from China, leading to some shipowners switching part of their fleet to haul fuels rather than oil, according to two tanker charterers.

Clean tanker freight rates were last at this elevated level in early 2020, after the pandemic decimated oil consumption and forced fuel producers to export as much product as possible to alleviate swelling storage tanks.

Demand for ships to haul fuels are expected to climb by 6% this year, underpinned by Europe, said Anoop Singh, head of tanker research at Braemar ACM Shipbroking.

“The European resolve to reduce reliance on Russian supplies will likely outlive the war in Ukraine and that will re-draw trade routes,” said Singh.

Russia was the single largest external supplier of diesel to Europe prior to the war.

Since the invasion in late February, more long-range class ships are being used to transport refined fuels, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights analysts Fotios Katsoulas and Krispen Atkinson.

Longer voyages are reducing the amount of available capacity on vessels and driving up freight rates, they said.

LR tankers are the most common and are used to carry both products and oil.

The surge in rates is being replicated across other regions.

Ship owners transporting fuel from the Middle East to Japan on a route known as TC-5 -- a key passage for naphtha -- were earning more than $50,000 a day on Wednesday, compared with as low as $61 a day in February, according to Baltic Exchange data.

The cost of shipping fuel from the US to Brazil on the TC-18 route was near $37,000 a day, up from $3,800 a day four months ago. ... 8-article/
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