Beltway Insider:ObamaCare Deadline Approaches; November Job Numbers; Congress Delays UI Benefits; Black Friday Jitters

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President Barack Obama kicked off a twenty-one day Affordable Care Act sign up campaign urging Americans, through Marketplace success stories, to initiate the mandated medical insurance coverage process immediately.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week stayed steady at 42% of those polled that approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President dropped one percentage point to 51%.

President Kicks Off Affordable Care Act Campaign As Deadlines Approach

President Obama began his deadline driven health care initiative with a stump speech at the White House, providing real people examples of ObamaCare successes, as opponents of the Affordable Care Act continued to demand the law be modified, changed or abolished.

“Despite all the problems in the rollout, about half a million people across the country are poised to gain health care coverage through marketplaces and Medicaid beginning on January 1st -- some for the very first time,” the President said.

The Affordable Care Act rollout, which was unilaterally considered a debacle, and the Healthcare.gov website which was a regarded as a dismal failure even by the President and other high ranking democrats, is quickly approaching the mid way point of open enrollment season.

Defending the Affordable Care Act, the President adamantly insisted he personally monitors The Marketplace and daily checks to ensure the website is working properly after weeks of poor performance, repeated outages and criticism.

“The Affordable Care Act is not about a website.  The website is a means to an end, and the end is the provision of quality, affordable health insurance to millions of Americans, many of whom have not had access to quality, affordable health insurance in the past,” said  Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary.

December 31, 2013 is the first of two major Obamacare deadlines, with March 31, 2014 ending the initial enrollment open season for the newly enacted law that mandates that all, approximately 41million uninsured Americans purchase medical coverage.

For uninsured Americans, adhering to the law may seem impossible simply due to cost. Citizens who are facing financial hardship at the time of purchase, and subsequently, will find the ACA has a built in qualification system which determines what type of federal funding the government will be provide.

Financial assistance is available for almost any income level below $100,000 annually depending on the family size.

The government may subsidize insurance plans partially or at 100% of the healthcare costs for many whom now aren’t aware of the financial support available. Additionally, some uninsured may not be required to purchase insurance. The determined subsidy may result in direct payment by the government or may come in the form of assistance with out of pocket expenses.

The Affordable Care Act, which depending on the poll is either wildly popular or equally unpopular, remains contentious with Republican leaders who have continually called for the law to be discarded or repealed.

“The bottom line is this law is working and will work into the future.  People want the financial stability of health insurance.  And we’re going to keep on working to fix whatever problems come up in any startup, any launch of a project this big that has an impact on one-sixth of our economy, whatever comes up we’re going to just fix it because we know that the ultimate goal, the ultimate aim, is to make sure that people have basic security and the foundation for the good health that they need,” the President said.

“We’re not repealing it (ACA) as long as I’m President and I want everybody to be clear about that,” he added.

 

Unemployment Sees Biggest Gains in Five Years

November job numbers were released this week giving everyone in Washington an opportunity for a little yuletide cheer as the economy added, in the past month, over 203,000 jobs, considerably more than analysts had predicted.

With across the board job creation, the gains brought unemployment down from 7.3% to 7%, the lowest it has been in over five years. The total number of unemployed workers, 10.9million, also saw declines.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that temporary workers reporting layoffs fell by 377,000 largely due to forced furloughed Government employees returning to work.  

As each month’s job numbers have been heralded by the Obama Administration as noteworthy, the November gains are the first significant milestone since October 2012, when the jobless rate fell below 8% where it had been cemented for 43 straight months.

While economists have said it would take until 2017 before all jobs lost in the worst recession, since the great depression, would return the possibility of those jobs re-appearing before that date seem probable.

The deep cuts in manufacturing which resulted in unprecedented outsourcing of American jobs may not return to its pre-recession levels.  Although emerging sectors will add employment numbers faster and provide many long-term unemployed opportunities to find alternative employment through trade, industry or retraining options.

The total of long term unemployed, those out of work for 27 weeks or more remain unchanged at 4.1million. The total numbers of Discouraged Workers, those who have stop searching believing no jobs exists for them fell over the past year by 217,000.

Over the past year Healthcare averaged a monthly gain of 27,000 positions; Retail averaged 31,000 jobs per month, Leisure and Hospitality averaged 28,000; Construction, 15,000 per month.

The biggest gain during the month of November came in the professional and business service sector which added 35,000 positions averaging 55,000 positions per month over the past year.

Healthcare was also a trending sector and economists predict it will remain a strong area of growth.

The sequester squeeze and the government shut down resulted in a continued drop in government work force which declined over the past year by 92,000 workers and in November by 7,000.

December employment numbers are due to be released January 10, 2014.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits Set to Expire

Unemployment Insurance Benefits for over one million recipients are set to expire at the end of 2013 unless Congress moves to pass legislation that will halt this catastrophe, before they leave for holiday break.

For the nations unemployed, the weekly benefits are the financial lifeline while they struggle to find work. Even with the clear shift in the economy, unemployed workers can expect on average twelve to sixteen weeks of unemployment before landing subsequent employment.

“But now,” President Obama said “that economic lifeline is in jeopardy.” The reason is, he continued, “Because Republicans in this Congress – which is on track to be the most unproductive in history – have so far refused to extend it.”

This type of year-end deadline is not uncommon in Washington. If the last three years are any indication Congress will depart for their annual Christmas Holiday with this piece of business unfinished delegating negotiating powers to senior staff or returning to Washington before the deadline expires.

Black Friday Numbers Left Retailers Jittery

Black Friday, the annual start to the holiday shopping season, did little to calm jittery retailers hoping for a windfall to bolster crucial yearend sales and recoup other seasonal losses.

Retailers, who depend on the four week rush between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve for nearly 40% of their annual sales, did everything in their power to draw the weather weary, the early bird and the discount shoppers offering every type of enticement possible.

With Black Friday stretching into Cyber Monday, retail totals now include the four day holiday weekend in all calculations. Over 140million participated in some form of retail experience throughout the Thanksgiving Day weekend an increase of only 1% over the same period in 2012.

“The average amount each consumer spent, or planned to spend by the end of Sunday, went down, dropping to $407.02 from $423.55. Total spending for the weekend this year was expected to be $57.4 billion, a decrease of nearly 3 percent from last year’s $59.1 billion,” as reported in The New York Times.

Shoppers can expect major sales and many other incentives as the Christmas Holiday approaches.

 

For more information on President Obama: www.whitehouse.gov   

For more information on the Affordable Care Act: https://www.healthcare.gov/

Sources: Gallup, Wikipedia, Whitehouse.gov,

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