Democrats didn't have a fun evening at the State of the Union Tuesday night, glowering through the entire speech, and often declining to clap for typically-universal applause lines. Despite one reporter's efforts to draw a false equivalency between Republicans' reaction to Obama's annual speeches to what happened this week, Congressional Democrats' conduct was -- to borrow a popular phrase these days -- not normal. The disconnect between the Democrats in the chamber and average Americans was almost instantaneously revealed by CBS and CNN's snap polls, which showed supermajorities of voters who watched approving of what they heard. Those lopsided numbers included lots of Democratic voters, and large majorities of independents. And yet, the angry, embittered resistance demanded the unflinching performance of misery that their elected partisans put on. Some would call it disrespectful. I called it...weird and incongruous:
In any case, many of the scowls were directed at the president's accurate descriptions of America's strong economic performance, especially his recitation of the facts about the results of tax reform -- which have been humiliating for doom-saying Democrats, every one of whom voted 'no' on the succeeding law. Reality is providing daily rebuttals to their over-the-top propaganda and dishonesty. As political strategists would say, each news cycle itself is "on message" for the GOP tax plan, even as other unrelated stories continue to complicate the narrative, and 'Armageddon's' wreckage continues apace. First, out of Wisconsin:
BMO Harris Bank Tuesday joined other banks, like Green Bay-based Associated Bank, in raising its minimum wage to $15 per hour because of the recent changes to the corporate tax rate. BMO Harris, based in Chicago but with a major presence in Milwaukee, said it will also raise its level of community giving by 10 percent in 2018 because of the tax reform law. BMO Harris Bank gave more than $17 million to community groups throughout its U.S. footprint in 2017, emphasizing community and economic development, health and human services, education and the arts..."We're pleased to share the benefits of the strong economic conditions, and the effects of the recent tax reform changes, with our employees and communities," said David Casper, president and CEO, BMO Harris Bank. BMO Harris, a subsidiary of Bank of Montreal (NYSE: BMO), has more than 3,000 employees in the seven-county Milwaukee area and...14,000 total employees...
Next up are these pieces of national news:
U.S. workers’ wages and benefits grew 2.6 percent last year, the fastest 12-month pace since the spring of 2015. The 12-month gain in wages and benefits came despite a slight slowdown at the end of last year with wages and benefits rising 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, a tiny dip from a 0.7 percent gain in the third quarter, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Still, the 12-month gain was an improvement from a 2.2 percent gain for the 12 months ending in December 2016...The gain in the employment cost index showed that wages and salaries were up 2.5 percent for the 12 months ending in December while benefits such as employer contributions to health insurance and pension plans rose 2.5 percent. Wages and salaries make up about 70 percent of compensation costs while benefits make up the other 30 percent.
Economists cited in that AP story said that wages should be growing faster, so there's still room for improvement -- but the overall signs and trajectory are positive. As for job growth projections, here's today's ADP estimate:
The official Labor Department numbers are expected at the end of the week; as we await those, read Jim Geragthy's post agreeing that the US economy is "humming along nicely." Finally, this may be my favorite tweet of the week, via a conservative operative. It seems his friend who used to work at the DNC is reaping the benefits of the exclusively Republican-passed law. You're welcome:
This individual is doubly fortunate -- he or she got a tax reform bonus and appears to have gotten out of the DNC just in the nick of time. Yikes. I'll leave you with the charge to make your own joke about the DNC's insolvency and Democrats' fiscal policies.