The US Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis corrected itself this week. The BEA reports that the GDP shrank by 1% in the first quarter, the first contraction in the economy in three years. Exports decreased (as imports increased) and private inventory demand was down. More details here.

In early June, President Obama is expected to announce new EPA regulations* aimed at reducing carbon emissions to 42% of 2005 levels by 2030. An independent study by the US Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Institute looked at the costs of these regulations. Selected summary charts are posted below. You can read the full report here. “Highlights” include 224 million jobs lost PER YEAR, GDP losses of $51 billion PER YEAR, and increased energy costs at more than $285 billion.

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*Please note that these new EPA regulations are not part of new legislation, developed and approved by Congress. Instead, the President has opted for “executive orders” to make these sweeping and hugely impactful changes.

…(A)ll social doctors … fix their minds on some man or group of men whose case appeals to the sympathies and the imagination, and they plan remedies addressed to the particular trouble; they do not understand that all the parts of society hold together, and that forces which are set in action act and react throughout the whole organism, until an equilibrium is produced by a readjustment of all interests and rights. They therefore ignore entirely the source from which they must draw all the energy which they employ in their remedies, and they ignore all the effects on other members of society than the ones they have in view. They are always under the dominion of the superstition of government, and, forgetting that a government produces nothing at all, they leave out of sight the first fact to be remembered in all social discussion — that the state cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man.

Read William Graham Sumner’s full essay, “On the Case of a Certain Man Who Is Never Thought Of” (1883), here.

Agency Delays $765 Million in Spending for U.S. Veterans' Care

The Office of the Inspector General has released an interim report reviewing the practices at the Phoenix Arizona facilities. The report substantiates that “…significant delays in access to care negatively impacted the quality care at this medical facility.” The report identifies “… multiple types of scheduling practices that are not in compliance with VHA policy.” The IG found multiple patient lists which “… may be the basis for allegations of creating “secret” wait lists.” The full interim report is available here.

As more and more of the ACA mandates and taxes are taking hold, contract negotiations are frequently running into impasses over increasing health care costs and who pays them.

Jim Ray, a lawyer who represents the Laborers International Union of North America in benefits negotiations, said these provisions have increased construction-industry health plans’ costs by 5% to 10%, and already resulted in lower wages for some laborers. He said employers are frequently seeking contract language to cap their own liability for future cost increases from the law. “When we first supported the calls for health-care reform, we thought it was going to bring costs down,” he said.

These negotiating difficulties are being seen across the country and across industries. More information here.