From yesterday’s Washington Post:
In a vote of 53 to 45, Republicans and Joe Lieberman (and four Democrats) kept the bill, which punished companies that send jobs overseas, from passing.
…Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) dismissed the bill as “a purely political exercise” that never had a chance of becoming law.
This coming from someone whose party just released the “Pledge To America”.
In reality, this is the Republican game to stop the Democrats from accomplishing ANYTHING.
They don’t care who this hurts, as long as they can leverage it to try to get back into power so they can rack up the reforms and changes they achieved during the Bush years. Wait, what?
For those keeping score:
Democrats voting to block the bill were Ben Nelson (Neb.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Max Baucus (Mont.).
One of the debates in the upcoming midterms concerns the stimulus package and whether or not it failed.
Citing no evidence (except that the economy isn’ t booming), Republicans say that the stimulus was a hands down failure.
I have written in this space before linking to articles showing that this simply isn’t true.
Unemployment numbers reported today seem to show a recovery is happening, even before significant amounts of the stimulus money have been spent.
The real debate is between a Keynesian approach to the economy and the right’s insistence on austerity measures.
A number of Paul Krugman’s recent articles have illustrated how sharp turns toward austerity in Europe have been counterproductive to recovery.
Most recently, he writes:
…mainstream macroeconomics – which suggests that we need a lot more stimulus, monetary and fiscal – has actually held up very well in this crisis; it has, above all, made the right predictions about inflation and interest rates, while the doctrines underlying the pain caucus have gotten it all wrong. Yet “serious” policy makers are rejecting the theory that works in favor of theories that don’t.
Republicans and their lapdog Democratic allies continue to push economic balderdash.
The Motley Fool website has a nice piece from August pitting Keynes against Frederich Hayek. Hayek, and his tome The Road To Serfdom have been essential touchstones for the Tea Partiers who take their marching orders from Glenn Beck.
The article, in a roundtable format contains a lot of head scratching from the various analysts, who find polite ways of saying, “are these people crazy? Austerity measures at a time like this are like economic suicide”.
We need to take all of this debt-reduction excitement and bottle it up — it’ll come in very handy a few years down the line, when the economy can better handle such measures. But for now, release the Kraken! … um, I mean, the stimulus. – Matt Koppenheffer, Fool contributor
I am not an economist, but I can see what has worked and why, and what has not. I read a lot of history.
It would have been illuminating to see what would have happened if the stimulus had been doubled. We would have a very clear idea if the conventional wisdom holds true (as it has in case after case before).
Perhaps it would have put the final nail in the coffin of this particular bad idea — but that is likely wishful thinking.
The Great Depression sent a generation of conservatives and their failed policies into exile.
Now they’re back with a vengeance.
Because people forget of the bitter fruits of their ideology.
Maybe someone should remind them.
- George Will Rips Paul Krugman: No I Don’t Agree With You On Stimulus Spending (newsbusters.org)
- Europe set for austerity protests (bbc.co.uk)
- Austerity: European-style, American-style (themoderatevoice.com)
- Roundtable: Keynes vs. Hayek! Who Was Right? (fool.com)
Here’s some good news:
Unemployment fell in nearly two-thirds of the nation’s 372 largest metro areas last month, the broadest improvement since May.
So, something is working out there.
Let’s hope the trend continues.
Gene Lyons has a post up at Salon that captures what I have been thinking about the upcoming mid-terms and the “Obamacare” scare tactics.
In “Don’t be fooled by the GOP’s sick healthcare rhetoric” Lyons makes some good points about the right’s plan to run on a distortion of Democratic accomplishments.
Is there anybody capable of filling out Form 1040 EZ who buys this latest Republican fantasy? Alas, yes. A clamorous minority remains captive to the GOP’s decades-long War on Arithmetic. The more dramatically “conservative” economic dogma fails — there’s nothing conservative about believing in magic — the greater their cultlike need to believe it.
But Lyons makes an important observation in the next graph:
Obamacare’s problems, however, are somewhat of the White House’s own making. Polls have shown that while the law’s unpopular in the abstract, its constituent parts earn wide approval. That’s partly because GOP propaganda, “government takeover,” “death panels,” etc., scared low-information voters; partly because the bill’s so complex that few really understand how it works.
It is simply not a believable argument that Republicans are going to repeal Healthcare Reform. The logistics aren’t there for them to win a veto-proof majority, and if the Democrats would merely make the Republicans answer exactly what popular provision they would like to cut (or, not answer, as the case may be) there is little chance this meme will remain potent.
The article also outlines exactly what is wrong with the Republican position. They treat healthcare as a commodity, and of necessity eliminate people who have preexisting conditions from having access to treatment. To save money.
“Obamacare” addresses this by mandating insurance to increase the pool, and lower the costs for everyone.
The Republican plan tackles costs by — oh, wait. They don’t have one. Except for the red herring of tort reform (which does not lower costs in any way according to studies in states where it has been enacted).
In any case, the county isn’t going to go backward.
Lyons cites a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study that shows that 4 in 10 respondents don’t think there is enough reform in the legislation.
In order to tackle the nation’s problems, we need a serious discussion about how to fix things and be honest about what sacrifices we need to make.
Eventually, some form of single payer will have to be enacted. It presents the most cost controls, the least complex administration and the most benefits.
If the Democrats were smart, they would run on trying to pass that. The tide is turning.
- Pence: Repealing healthcare reform is a mainstream GOP position (thehill.com)
- GOP ‘Pledge’ Includes Repealing Reform Law (abcnews.go.com)
- Cornyn: ‘We Need To Keep Expectations… Fairly Modest’ About Health Care Repeal (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
You might remember Jame O’Keefe.
He’s the arrogant little punk who videotaped ACORN workers, and then intercut the video with scenes to make it look like they were assisting him in a prostitution ring.
Of course, it was later revealed (way too late) that it was all a fabrication.
Congress cut all funds and ties to ACORN, and the organization pretty much closed up shop nationally.
Several people lost jobs, and ACORN, an organization that signed up poor people to vote, was destroyed.
Which of course was their real crime. We can’t have the disenfranchised voting.
It was all part of the right wing voter suppression strategy. Study after study has shown that the more people who vote, the more likely liberals will prevail.
O’Keefe is also the guy who tried to wiretap Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office while posing as a telephone company person — in order to “prove” the senator was not responsive to constituents or some such nonsense.
He comes off as a spoiled rich brat with unlimited cash who decides to do stupid shit to people because their existence offends him.
Well, now Salon is reporting that he has tried to “punk” a CNN reporter in a bizarre scheme that I have yet to understand: “James O’Keefe’s planned sexual harassment “prank” goes awry”
Was O’Keefe trying to create irrefutable evidence that he has deep, disturbing problems with women?
A document “explains” his plan:
According to the document, O’Keefe was to record a video of the following script before Boudreau arrived: “My name is James. I work in video activism and journalism. I’ve been approached by CNN for an interview where I know what their angle is: they want to portray me and my friends as crazies, as non-journalists, as unprofessional and likely as homophobes, racists or bigots of some sort….
“Instead, I’ve decided to have a little fun. Instead of giving her a serious interview, I’m going to punk CNN. Abbie has been trying to seduce me to use me, in order to spin a lie about me. So, I’m going to seduce her, on camera, to use her for a video. This bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five will get a taste of her own medicine, she’ll get seduced on camera and you’ll get to see the awkwardness and the aftermath.
It’s already part of the record that he is reflexively racist .
Remember, this is the guy that the right venerates as an example of their new journalism. He and enabler Andrew Breitbart pull disgusting stunts that destroy people in an effort to intimidate and silence discussion and opposition.
What a cad.
Update: Media Matters has a nice summation of O’Keefe’s “career”: The Lies of James O’Keefe.
Apparently, Paul Krugman is continuing to be a problem for the powerful elite.
From time to time you read a snide comment or a post purporting to prove Krugman wrong. If it comes to his attention, the Nobel Prize-winng economist usually takes the argument apart like a cheap suit.
This past week, he has faced two attacks from the gatekeepers of knowledge in the media.
Most of the article is standard profile fluff, but there is undercurrent of snobbery throughout that seems to say that rich people are hypocrites when they advocate for the middle class and poor.
For example, in Kurtz’ Media Notes profile of the New York Times columnist, he writes:
Krugman would seem to have an exceedingly comfortable life. There’s the large house in Princeton, described by the New Yorker as being in “Japanese modern style,” the New York apartment and the condo on the beach in St. Croix. There are trips to international conferences, most recently in Sweden and Japan. He makes a bundle on writing textbooks with his wife. People’s heads turn in restaurants, like the one where he is lunching.
So, Kurtz seems to say, why doesn’t he just shut the F*&K up?
Like many of the media elite, floating around in the rarified air (and sipping champagne with the politicians and other power brokers they write about), Kurtz cannot fathom why someone would be upset that American is going to hell in a handbasket.
After all, he’s got plenty of money, right?
Krugman started his early columns in the New York Times at the time the Bush Administration took the reigns. As Kurtz does manage to note, the Princeton professor didn’t like the lies and sleight of hand the Bush economic team used to rig the economy for the wealthy.
He called them on it in print. A lot.
This has made Krugman a target for the elite and the right, who bluster nonsensical pronouncements about magical economic forces the defy scrutiny. They usually do this without a shred of evidence to back them up, or by distorting and misreading data.
Krugman writes in a way that takes the complexity of the worlds of finance and economics and makes them understandable to the layperson.
And so, he must be marginalized. Immediately. Mercilessly.
The second attempt this week is also the most hilarious.
As reported in Salon’s “The dumbest attack on Paul Krugman, ever”, blogger Gonzalo Lira, writing for Business Insider tried to twist the Times’ columnist’s word to make it seem that he was advocating starting a war to improve the economy.
Dumb, dumb, dumb:
It’s Krugman’s disturbing, nihilist inference, which he makes over and over, tucked away in his articles, but always there, like a nasty aftertaste of a drink laced with a roofie: So maybe another total war might not be such a bad idea now, so as to get us out of this new Global Depression.
That is what I object to in Paul Krugman: He seems to be offering up another war as the only way to fix the economy.
Of course, Krugman never said or suggested any such thing.
Lira tries to state that Krugman’s reference to World War II’s role in helping bring the U.S. out of a depression (a little-debated fact among economists) as advocacy for starting another war.
Bullshit was called on Mr. Lira by large segments of the blogosphere, and Business Insider yanked the piece with a weak mea culpa:
The post that previously appeared at this URL by the writer Gonzalo Lira makes some claims about Paul Krugman’s stance on war being necessary for the economy that we feel distort Krugman’s actual stance.
It’s clear that certain factions are scrambling to find something to nail Krugman with, with little success.
It’s a good indication that what he is saying is making certain people uncomfortable.
You should read him.
So, the Republicans haven’t learned a thing since their “Contract With America” was revealed for the utter fraud that it was.
Their new “Pledge To America” is rife with distortions and what FactCheck.org politely refers to as “dubious claims”:
The report starts with a damning summary that takes “The Pledge” apart — revealing it for the cheap publicity stunt that it is.
- It declares that “the only parts of the economy expanding are government and our national debt.” Not true. So far this year government employment has declined slightly, while private sector employment has increased by 763,000 jobs.
- It says that “jobless claims continue to soar,” when in fact they are down eight percent from their worst levels.
- It repeats a bogus assertion that the Internal Revenue Service may need to expand by 16,500 positions, an inflated estimate based on false assumptions and guesswork.
- It claims the stimulus bill is costing $1 trillion, considerably more than the $814 billion, 10-year price tag currently estimated by nonpartisan congressional budget experts.
- It says Obama’s tax proposals would raise taxes on “roughly half the small business income in America,” an exaggeration. Much of the income the GOP is counting actually comes from big businesses making over $50 million a year.
On healthcare, the stimulus bill, the economy, taxes and small business, the GOP pledge presents a fiction.
What is important to remember is this tidbit:
Fact: It’s true that the economy lost nearly 8.4 million jobs from the peak of employment in December, 2007 to the bottom of the job slump in December of last year. More than half (4.4 million) were lost before Obama took office. The economy has regained 723,000 jobs since hitting bottom, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So, the economy is turning around after being driven into the ground during the last administration.
Look at the record. That’s what things like this “pledge” purport to do. As as you can see, the Republicans have to make things up and want don’t want accountability for what they did.
Don’t let them get away with it.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Stimulus Package (or The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) created between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.
The Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.Org calls shenanigans on the Republican campaign rhetoric in “Did the Stimulus Create Jobs?” posted here.
The economic stimulus package is a favorite target of Republican candidates and groups, but more than a few ads falsely claim it did not create or save any jobs. Some recent examples:
- Republican House candidate Dan Debicella charges that Democratic Rep. Jim Himes failed Connecticut’s families because he voted for a “stimulus package that has done nothing to reduce unemployment.”
- Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for governor in Florida, says Democrat Alex Sink “backed the failed stimulus bill, which created debt, not jobs.”
- Similarly, Sink — who never served in Congress and didn’t vote on the bill — is attacked by the Republican Party of Florida in an ad that says the stimulus “gave us big debt and no jobs.”
- Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that does not have to disclose its donors, aired an ad against Democratic congressional candidate Denny Heck of Washington that claimed the “$787 billion stimulus … failed to save and create jobs.” The group has launched similar ads against other Democrats.
- Kristi Noem, a Republican House candidate from South Dakota, calls the measure a “jobless stimulus.”
The stimulus created more jobs. Period. Likely millions of jobs. From FactCheck.org:
As we have written before, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report in August that said the stimulus bill has “[l]owered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points” and “[i]ncreased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million.”
If you hear otherwise from friends and acquaintances, please correct them.
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