The news reports on the release of revised data for 2nd quarter GDP missed the fact that output in the nonfarm business sector was revised down by 0.4 percentage points. This means that (ignoring rounding) productivity growth for the quarter should also be lowered by 0.4 pp to a 1.2 percent annual rate. At this point, the consensus estimate for 3rd quarter GDP growth is about 2.5 percent, which translates into a 1.5 percent rate of productivity growth, assuming hours grow at a modest 1 percent annual rate.
NELSON: CASE IN POINT. I don't want to keep beating up on Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) -- I realize he may be the best one can hope for out of Nebraska -- but today he once again cast a decisive (corrected, as commenters had noted) vote of major importance. By a 51-48 margin, the Senate rejected an amendment to strike provisions on habeus corpus review from the putrid "compromise" bill on torture. It was a party-line vote, Nelson being the only Democrat voting with the majority.
HOUSE ENACTS A POLL TAX. Following up on my post from yesterday about the importance of election oversight at the state level comes news of an attack on voting rights at the national level. FromKatrina vanden Heuvel at The Nation:
LUCKY WE CUT THOSE TAXES. Following this bit of good news out of Iraq, there is a new congressional analysis showing that we're spending $2 billion a week on the war -- more than twice as much as it cost per week during the first year of operations. The change in spending is coming both from increased combat, but also from "the building of more extensive infrastructure to support troops and equipment in and around Iraq and Afghanistan." Here's how that looks:
A UNITER. I think it's time for liberals to admit that, at least in Iraq, George W. Bush is a uniter, not a divider. For instance: He's united more than 60 percent of Iraqis in support of attacks on U.S. troops. He's united even more than that in terms of those who the Americans out within a year. And he's united nearly 80 percent behind the proposition that our presence provokes more violence than it prevents. That's some impressive uniting! Now, if only his administration would listen:
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING. As per usual, if anyone is still confused as to the median voter's stubborn resistance to admitting the economy's overall awesomeness, new data showing that health premiums went up 7.7 percent in 2005 may help illuminate things. After all, 7.7 percent was more than twice the inflation rate and the growth in worker's wages. In fact, since 2000, health premiums have gone up by 87 percent. Somehow, I doubt the average worker's salary has done the same.
SPEAKING OF POST COLUMNISTS...David Broder continues his "political independence" jihad today, this time with a column celebrating Arnold Schwarzenegger's political transformation from righty to moderate deal-maker, which "demonstrat[ed] in the most dramatic way possible the value of political independence." But now I'm really confused.
"VOTE"? I don't think George Will actually knows what the word "vote" means. He appears to believe that it has something to do with purchases. So since I, say, don't actually buy cholesterol-lowering drugs for myself, I am registering a "vote" against their existence. Or since many taxpayers forget or don't care enough to donate three dollars to a public financing system that doesn't work, they are against public financing.
Reports on August new home sales initially touted the unexpected uptick from a 1,009,000 annual rate in July to a 1,050,000 annual rate. Fortunately, some folks noticed that the July numbers had been revised down from a previously reported 1,070,000 annual rate. Still, some reports noted the goods news that inventories of unsold homes had declined modestly from a record 570,000 in July to 568,000 in August. Well, that one isn't exactly right either. The July inventory numbers had previously been reported at 568,000.
HOW ABOUT SOME SOS LOVE? Massive disenfranchisement in the closest swing states have marred the last two presidential elections, and with that in mind, now would be a good time for progressives to focus on putting control of election oversight in the hands of competent and honest officials. While Secretaries of State Ken Blackwell and Katherine Harris have made nakedly partisan rulings to the benefit of their political patrons, progressives should focus on protecting every citizens' right to vote. Efforts like the Secretary of State Project (SOS), which attempts to raise money for incorruptible secretary of state candidates, are one way to go about this.