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Unemployment: still terrible
September 10, 2011 12:09 AM   Subscribe

Obama to Congressional Republicans: pass this jobs bill, or take the blame. The Economist has the details of the plan. Paul Krugman describes the plan as significantly bolder and better than expected. Good news and bad news: Obama's plan would work, but GOP won't pass it. Why not?

With the official unemployment rate at 9.1%, zero jobs growth in August, and interest rates at zero, what should the US do? There's two schools of thought:

1. The problem is lack of demand. It's a technical problem. The US needs to increase demand by any and all means: monetary policy, fiscal policy (infrastructure spending, tax cuts), exchange rate policy (demand for US exports increases as the dollar declines).

Lawrence Summers. Charles Evans. And some history: Japan. The return of demand-side economics (1998). How the economics profession failed.

2. High unemployment is just a symptom. The real problem is the need to liquidate past unsound investments. It's a moral problem. This is painful, but necessary. Moreover, businesses aren't hiring in the US because the US isn't competitive: the US government is profligate, the US economy is over-regulated and over-taxed, the US workforce is unproductive. The US needs to embrace austerity, reduce regulations and taxes, and encourage individuals to take responsibility for themselves (by cutting unemployment benefits, for example). Charles Evans describes this view:
Essentially, the hypothesis that limits aggressive policy actions assumes that the productive capabilities of the U.S. have declined markedly in recent years and that many workers who were productively employed just a few years ago are now essentially obsolete. In this scenario, either much of the past decade of prosperity was an illusion or, alternatively within the space of only a few years, the productive potential of the U.S. collapsed for some unexplained reason.
Also see: Just World Syndrome, Austrian economics.

Which of these two schools of thought currently has a majority in the House of Representatives?
posted by russilwvong (212 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
demand for US exports increases as the dollar declines... the US economy is over-regulated and over-taxed...

Export Congress to Sweden, then wait a few minutes to realize what, exactly, is is they're looking at. head: asplode. Two problems solved.

Seriously, this "America is overtaxed" meme is such a pernicious piece of bullshit that I wish people would stop reporting it even in quotation. God did not hand us down a Book of Tax, so the standards for taxation are defined with respect to other nation-states on the planet Earth. With respect to this standard, America is in or somewhere below the middle quintile (depending on whether you distribute by GDP, by population, or whatnot, and whether you count states which nobody takes seriously as having effective control of their borders and effective provision of government services).

These people would like to undertax America, because they believe that would make things better (for the set of people for whom they'd like to make things better). Okay, let's have that discussion.
posted by Vetinari at 12:40 AM on September 10, 2011 [75 favorites]


If I could read the assembled thoughts of the house of representatives I imagine it would sound something like GRAR OBAMA LOSE WE WIN PLUTOCRATS FUCK YOU ALL.
posted by benzenedream at 12:43 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Truman ran against the "do nothing" Congress and pulled out one of the most significant underdog victories in the past century. Please learn the right lessons from history instead of the wrong lessons from pollsters.

I mean, I'm not [INSERT TRANS-NATIONAL BANK HERE], but I'd like to think I invested the first jackson or grant I ever laid down in politics was invested wisely.
posted by absalom at 12:44 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't it be both a failure to take the medicine on bad past investments (let the shitty businesses fail no matter how big) and a need to stimulate demand, by building infrastructure, for example?
I kind of think both sides of the argument are going to end up losers.
posted by bystander at 12:59 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


the US economy is over-regulated

No seriously, by what standard? Is this not the economy that just royally fucked up by being UNDER-regulated? You guys in the US play by rules no one else does.
posted by Hoopo at 1:08 AM on September 10, 2011 [39 favorites]


I'm just gonna blame the insurance companies. It is a simpler narrative.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:17 AM on September 10, 2011


Single payer will solve all ails. Paying for ridiculously inflated employer's insurance hurts more than any tax.

See, look, this is a much simpler narrative.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:19 AM on September 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


All the GOP has to do is pass a few provisions of the proposed bill, say that they cooperated with Obama, sit on their hands while the economy continues to be fucked, and wait for 2012.
posted by rdr at 1:19 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obama Against the Nihilists
posted by homunculus at 1:23 AM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Obama's speech was forceful, and politically well-timed. The GOP is somewhat boxed into a corner on this one.Obama is probably sincere about the jobs bill; I'm sure he wants to look like a guy who will help the millions of people who have been hurt by the recent loss of confidence caused by the crash of the financial sector - a loss of confidence that continued on as long and deep as it has because the Obama administration didn't have the balls to cry "FOUL! loud enough when the banks decided not to open up the credit gates, and instead went on to protect their asses. (current negotiations may see the banks paying off tens-of-billions in fines in exchange for basic institutional and personal immunities from States and the Feds)

No need to go on about all the broken promises, and passivity of this administration, but the fix we're in re: jobs has a lot to do with the fact that when the banks stalled credit, employment shrunk.

We may see a jobs bill pass, but we will see gargantuan cuts take place in other sectors in order to pay for it. Some GOP members are warming up to the idea of passing a jobs bill because it's now just occurring to them that Obama promised cuts to other stuff that would pay for the bill. What other stuff? Oh, I see, the "Committee of 12" is going to decide. Uh-huh..tell me another one.

Let's follow the money. What kind of jobs are we talking about? Are we talking about serious retraining programs that will increase the intellectual capital infrastructure of America. No. Businesses will get tax breaks for hiring people - small businesses. Small businesses typically don't pay high wages.

Side note: What astounds me is that Obama is calling for more money to rebuild K12 and college physical infrastructure. This is in direct opposition to the coming revolution and fast moving trend in distributed education technologies.

So, a well-timed speech, meant to keep the jobless happy, and quiet long enought to put Obama and his banker friends back in power. Or, if that doesn't work. Romney or Perry and their banker friends in power.

I don't see anything progressive about Obama's administration, or any recent administration, or any hypothetical future administration. What I see is a continuing charade of politicos, bought and paid for by big money - politicos who are charismatic and adept at amping people up with passion-laden speeches that speak either to "fear", or "hope" - depending on the party, and circumstance. That's what this jobs speech was; that's what Bachmann's and Perry's speeches to their respective bases are. Note that the people who tend to get closest to deconstructing the system - people like Ralph Nader, or Ron Paul - whether you agree with them or not, are not wont to deliver impassioned speeches. They quietly try to point out how we're getting screwed. (I don't agree with Paul, btw, but he does have a few really good ideas peppered into his platform that might make a big difference, but he's drwoned out by the GOP appeasers and manipulators)

In the meantime, the average real wage of the average American continues to decrease. People point fingers at one another, etc.

We're gonna suffer for a while yet, and things are not going to get better - and in about 7-8 years, when they do start to "get better" , we're going to be happy because "getting better" is going to translate directly to "things aren't getting worse". From there, it's anybody's guess.

By then Obama, whether he gets re-elected, or not, will be writing books, or whatever - his future assured. the average real wage of the American worker will be have lost even more value, and concentrations of wealth at the top - the "top" that buys all the legislation that keeps this charade going, will be better off than ever before.

We're going to be OK, we're a strong and diverse nation; we will adapt, but we're never going back to the "good old days".

Finally, we're going to continue to get our clocks cleaned by both parties, unless we see more diversity from innovative centrists that find core support from the American voter AND we get the goddamned money out of politics.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:34 AM on September 10, 2011 [32 favorites]


Export Congress to Sweden, then wait a few minutes to realize what, exactly, is is they're looking at. head: asplode.

A bursting real estate bubble caused by inadequate controls on lending combined with an international recession and a policy switch from anti-unemployment policies to anti-inflationary policies resulted in a fiscal crisis in the early 1990s.[60] Sweden's GDP declined by around 5%. In 1992, there was a run on the currency, with the central bank briefly jacking up interest to 500%.[61][62]

The response of the government was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Sweden's competitiveness, among them reducing the welfare state and privatising public services and goods.


You were saying?

Besides haven't we been through this before?

We could attempt some major engineer feats like vacuum subways for goods or even development of solar roadways that would do more than reduce unemployment, it would leads us into the 21st century.

But we won't, so fuck it.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 2:35 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the Tea Party. What could be more civilized than High Tea? Cucumber sandwiches, Earl Grey tea. Gentlemen and ladies sip tea and discuss issues. Not painful issues, mind you, because that would be uncivilized.

I can only hope that the Tea Party will bring a sense of respect and decorum and formality to our collective dialogue. The Empire depends upon it.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:16 AM on September 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


The US could always start another war. And I don't mean another Iraq or Afghanistan, but a confrontation with China:

- China is a convenient scapegoat in many respects,
- a war economy would create plenty of jobs, or at least divert attention from the real problems (equally true for China and the US)
- such a war might be popular with the doomsday religious right (Bring it on!),
- it would also be popular with the rising Chinese nationalists,
- it's a good way for China to keep their surplus male population busy
- jobs, jobs, jobs!

So it's really win-win!
posted by sour cream at 3:27 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder if voting for Romney might actually be better for the left. Romney's track record hasn't been very far to the right of Obama. He's not likely to push a far right social agenda. He has the means to ensure both he and all of his friends are wealthy and prosperous even without being President. Above all of this, if Romney comes up with a moderate bill with concrete upsides, at least a significant part of the Republican party won't oppose it on the basis of "We oppose the President no matter what he does." Seriously. Obama could call for a tax cut and spending cuts that don't touch the defense industry with no strings attached and the Tea Party would vote against it. The Dems need to prep their bench for 2016, because it doesn't matter which side wins in 2012, they won't get a thing done for the next four years.

Say, where's the angry, bitter, irrational leftist counterpart to the Tea Party?
posted by Saydur at 4:03 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Say, where's the angry, bitter, irrational leftist counterpart to the Tea Party?

We elected Jimmy Carter, a right-leaning religious christian from the south... the time-warp going back to 1976 is really disorienting.
posted by ennui.bz at 4:25 AM on September 10, 2011


Which of these two schools of thought currently has a majority in the House of Representatives?

I guess "fuck you Obama we will win at any cost" is the majority school of thought in the House at the moment.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:27 AM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


where's the angry, bitter, irrational leftist counterpart to the Tea Party?

On Metafilter?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:30 AM on September 10, 2011 [28 favorites]


I wonder if voting for Romney might actually be better for the left. Romney's track record hasn't been very far to the right of Obama. He's not likely to push a far right social agenda.

Do you not remember that people thought the same things about Bush before his first term?
posted by JHarris at 4:34 AM on September 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


The problem is lack of demand.

No, the problem is too much debt, and until the system as a whole recognizes this, and starts paying it down, the problems will only get worse.

Mind, during the paydown process, things are going to be just awful. Terrible. But all we do with these bailouts and stimulus is make the problem worse, not better. The global economy became dependent on providing goods in exchange for American debt and currency, and America is now well past its ability to service those debt loads. All stimulus does is reinforce the fundamental monetary message to keep doing more of what got us in trouble in the first place.

If we want to actually get healthy again, we have to take in the teeth. We have to get off the drug of endless debt accumulation and monetary intervention to prop up those debt structures. Until we do that, we will only get sicker, much like Japan has gone from the most powerful economy in the world to one of the most indebted in just twenty years. They've lost an entire generation of economic growth because they refused to let the false parts of their economy fail. Instead, they just keep pumping more debt into the system to preserve insolvent companies and banks. And, thus, they never get better.

Neither will we.
posted by Malor at 4:42 AM on September 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Scary scenario:
the jobs situation brings in a GOP control congress and president. They continue to do nothing that needs doing, but continues to cut taxes and dump regulations. The result for the nation?
posted by Postroad at 4:44 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


But all we do with these bailouts and stimulus is make the problem worse, not better.

This is literally the opposite of proven economic orthodoxy going back for over eighty years. Stimulus can be more or less efficient but nobody seriously questions that - properly applied - it can indeed help stimulate growth.

Australia's unemployment peaked at about 5.5% at the height of the GFC, and the bulk of the credit for that figure goes to our government's speedy and widespread deployment of stimulus. This ranged from $1000 cash payments to every Australian adult to huge building grants for public schools across the country, cuts to property purchasing taxes and more. It was wildly effective.

Now, where Australia and the US were different - and where I kind of sort of agree with parts of what you're saying - is that when times were good we had interest rates around 7%, i.e we had a good base to cut from, and no appreciable deficits. That was a big difference between Australia and the US (not withstanding your horrendous property market which made the job of any stimulus ten times harder).
posted by smoke at 4:56 AM on September 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


but a confrontation with China

Special bonus: renege on all that Chinese held US paper!
posted by Meatbomb at 5:09 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


First world problem.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:12 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are two issues at hand:

1. Too much debt
-and-
2. Politicians need to appear as if they're doing something about the economy

Unfortunately, since the start of this in 2007, our political class has demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge and thorough understanding of the core problem (#1 above: debt).

The problem is that we've hit a point where the entire financial system is drowning in excessive debt and excessive future commitments for which there is insufficient growth to pay for said commitments.

It's not much more difficult to understand than that. Consumers are buried under credit card, student loan, auto loan and mortgage debt. Companies are buried under debt, local municipalities and states are buried under too much debt.

At some point people wake up and realize they're not saving anything, they're simply at best treading water and at worst falling further behind because of this weight called debt around their necks.

The housing crisis was simply a symptom of a larger problem. The result of the bubble bursting, however, is that millions are so far underwater that they are literally trapped in their homes. This leads to a lack of mobility, sense of hopelessness and general despair.

The only way out is a debt jubilee which, personally, I don't see being able to be structured in a way that satisfies anyone.

It's debt. Get that through your thick skull, Washington.
posted by tgrundke at 5:16 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


smoke -

Stimulus is effective if the problem is lack of demand or overproduction. It is NOT effective if the problem is that people are carrying an excessive debt burden.

We're also forgetting that the bigger, generational, problem is lack of savings. When everything we have goes to servicing debt this leaves little for investment and future spending.

We've essentially bought-forward the economy, much like the idiotic cash for clunkers program which provided a big one month shot in the arm and then sales collapsed after it expired. Further, CfC ended up distorting the market something fierce by removing a large supply of very inexpensive cars from the market.

Stimulus is NOT effective under today's situation - this is not your father's recession.
posted by tgrundke at 5:20 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, the problem is too much debt,

Paul Krugman is pretty adamant that far and away the best way to address the debt issue is to borrow/stimulate enough to prevent the economy destroying itself. It's fine to say the failed stuff has to be let go, but letting it all go at once has immense run-on effects and collateral damage to vital stuff that we need to keep running.

So, you suggest debt is the biggest priority, Krugman says jobs are the biggest priority (that addressing jobs is the only realistic way to take address the debt) and that paydown needs to be temporally go on the backburner in order to achieve this.

Can you elaborate on why you think Krugman is wrong?
posted by -harlequin- at 5:21 AM on September 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


(Krugman did a lot of work on Japan, and points to Japan as an example of what happens to an economy when stimulus comes too little, too late)
posted by -harlequin- at 5:25 AM on September 10, 2011


Paul Krugman is a flaming moron who is trying to avoid the key problem and cover it up as we have for the past 30 years. He's trying to apply the same medicine that every idiot economist does to a run of the mill recession and then when it doesn't work (due to human nature and unforeseen events), scratches his head and says, "hmm....well THAT shouldn't have happened...."

Yes, we need jobs, yes, putting people to work is a good idea.

No, that's unfortunately not the solution to the current situation because the problem is sustaining the job growth. Consumers are at an inflection point where their income is going to service debt. Discretionary income is non-existent and as a result, businesses see little demand.

I'm being purposely obtuse here because it's a bad situation we're in. There are no good answers.

That said - Krugman is still a fucking idiot.
posted by tgrundke at 5:28 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Paul Krugman is a flaming moron
That said - Krugman is still a fucking idiot.

You're hurting MetaFilter.
posted by gerryblog at 5:32 AM on September 10, 2011 [18 favorites]


this is not your father's recession.

Well, what you're talking about certainly isn't my father's economics, or his father's, or current heterodoxy, despite the press the weirder stuff seems to get without trying. Stimulus stimulates spending, which stimulates growth, which results in more revenue for governments. Once growth recovers, you raise interest rates and reduce stimulus. Pay back debt when you have money, and borrow when you don't have any. This is really abc stuff.
posted by smoke at 5:33 AM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Additionally, tgrundke, as horrible as the GFC has been, it's not really unprecedented in history.
posted by smoke at 5:35 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Which of these two schools of thought currently has a majority in the House of Representatives?

neither

“The American people shouldn’t be forced to watch some politician they don’t want to listen to when most of them would rather watch a football game.” - boehner

i'm afraid that's the majority school of thought, not only in the house, but in the country as a whole
posted by pyramid termite at 5:38 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not expert, but between the predictions of Krugman vs the austerity crowd re: Europe, it looks to me like the austerity crowd are the ones scratching their heads while Krugman looks pretty much on the money.
posted by -harlequin- at 5:40 AM on September 10, 2011 [29 favorites]


The only way out is a debt jubilee which, personally, I don't see being able to be structured in a way that satisfies anyone.

It's debt. Get that through your thick skull, Washington.
posted by tgrundke at 8:16 AM on September 1


I hate to mention it, but a "debt jubilee" is a form of stimulus, assuming that money spent paying down debt is now spent on goods and services instead of being socked away in a mattress... and of a particularly "progressive" sort since it amounts to a transfer of funds from creditors to debtors.

I think Krugman would agree with your idea that personal debt is dragging down demand. However, you seem to be conflating personal debt with government debt, which have very different effects in the economy.
posted by ennui.bz at 5:55 AM on September 10, 2011 [14 favorites]



I guess "fuck you Obama we will win at any cost" is the majority school of thought in the House at the moment.


Is it possible, then, to let it all play out... GOP blocks bill, unemployment increases, people know its because of GOP... that kind of thing? Or better yet, livecast the two party fighting into global channels to support the previous fighting over the budget?

By the time January 2013 rolls around, the world with plug ears with fingers and go la la la if the US says anything?
posted by infini at 6:00 AM on September 10, 2011


I wonder if voting for Romney might actually be better for the left. Romney's track record hasn't been very far to the right of Obama. He's not likely to push a far right social agenda.

Romney is a damn weasel, as anybody from Mass can tell you. He's currently running on a platform of "all those things I said to get elected in Mass, and did once I was governor, are no longer true." The only thing you can be sure of with Romney is that he will say and do whatever is convenient at this moment in time, then turn around and prevaricate as soon as the political winds shift.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 6:02 AM on September 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Scary scenario:
the jobs situation brings in a GOP control congress and president. They continue to do nothing that needs doing, but continues to cut taxes and dump regulations. The result for the nation?


Increasing unemployment, rising prices and discontent with the government has been leading to interesting solutions in other countries.
posted by infini at 6:05 AM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Seriously, this "America is overtaxed" meme is such a pernicious piece of bullshit that I wish people would stop reporting it even in quotation. God did not hand us down a Book of Tax, so the standards for taxation are defined with respect to other nation-states on the planet Earth.
Yet, in Obama's job's speech all he talked about was tax cuts. Obama just wants those tax cuts to go to different people then the republicans.

That's one of the most annoying things about Obama. He completely buys into the republican rhetoric about Taxes, and amplifies it.
Truman ran against the "do nothing" Congress and pulled out one of the most significant underdog victories in the past century. Please learn the right lessons from history instead of the wrong lessons from pollsters.
Yeah, well the fact that something happened in the 1950s doesn't mean that Obama can force it to happen again. History isn't a science where you can look at a certain event, draw some analogies, and then make some conclusions about what will happen in the future.

Sure, it makes sense to say that if congress has low approval numbers, it will hurt the republican nominee.
I'm sure he wants to look like a guy who will help the millions of people who have been hurt by the recent loss of confidence caused by the crash of the financial sector - a loss of confidence that continued on as long and deep as it has because the Obama administration didn't have the balls to cry "FOUL! loud enough when the banks decided not to open up the credit gates, and instead went on to protect their asses. (current negotiations may see the banks paying off tens-of-billions in fines in exchange for basic institutional and personal immunities from States and the Feds)
A huge part of the problem here is what's going on Europe right now. There's still a risk that Greece might default on a lot of it's debts.
Side note: What astounds me is that Obama is calling for more money to rebuild K12 and college physical infrastructure. This is in direct opposition to the coming revolution and fast moving trend in distributed education technologies.
Compare China's growth to India's. What's the difference, physical infrastructure. China can do all that manufacturing because they have excellent infrastructure. India just finished building a nation-wide highway recently, the kind we built in the 1950s -- following Germany's example. Physical infrastructure is important for a 'real' economy. We can't all be freelance web designers. It's manufacturing jobs, which can be done by anyone that are lifting hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty. India is great if you're a well educated English speaker. But there is still a ton of poverty out there.

Anyway, the point is -- not everyone can do 'intellectual' jobs, and until we move to a future where people are waited on by robot servants and don't have to work if they don't want to, people are still going to need traditional jobs.
Paul Krugman is a flaming moron -- tgrundke
I think it should be a rule that If you call a Nobel Prize winner a moron you pretty much instantly discredit yourself. It's possible that Krugman is lying for some reason, but that's not the argument you're making here
He's trying to apply the same medicine that every idiot economist does to a run of the mill recession and then when it doesn't work (due to human nature and unforeseen events), scratches his head and says, "hmm....well THAT shouldn't have happened...." -- tgrundke
Krugman has said over and over again that this recession isn't like a typical recession because we're in a liquidity trap. He's also said over and over again, from the very beginning that Obama's stimulus wasn't large enough. So, your description of his thinking makes no sense at all.

But like I said, calling a Nobel Prize winner an idiot = instant discrediting of your arguments.

Also, a ton of people want to make the "too much debt" argument without even bothering to distinguish between government, corporate, and personal debt. Bad personal debt (mortgages) was a huge problem in 2008, along with all the securitization. But short term government debt isn't harming the economy in anyway. In fact, cutting the debt right now would be damaging to the economy.
posted by delmoi at 6:07 AM on September 10, 2011 [40 favorites]


Isn't the answer that everyone is meant to be selling shit on ebay? Surely the issue is that there's simply too many places to spend money and not enough places to earn it.
posted by the noob at 6:13 AM on September 10, 2011


Isn't the answer that everyone is meant to be selling shit on ebay? Surely the issue is that there's simply too many places to spend money and not enough places to earn it.
Sell it to who?
posted by delmoi at 6:14 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder if voting for Romney might actually be better for the left. Romney's track record hasn't been very far to the right of Obama. He's not likely to push a far right social agenda.

I remember people saying the same thing about George W. Bush vis-a-vis Al Gore in the 2000 election. Don't believe it.
posted by jonp72 at 6:21 AM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Sell it to who?

Oh. Didn't think of that.
posted by the noob at 6:27 AM on September 10, 2011


Here is the problem: people in the US are used to a standard of living that the country can no longer support. That is all. First world incomes are in the (long) process of equalizing with formerly second-world places like China, Taiwan, India etc.

All the rest is simply the mechanics of how to get from A to B. It's happening and there's nothing you or anyone else can do to stop it. The century of American hegemony is over.
posted by unSane at 6:32 AM on September 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


I think it should be a rule that If you call a Nobel Prize winner a moron you pretty much instantly discredit yourself.

The Swedes have gotten things spectacularly wrong on occasion.

The only thing you can be sure of with Romney is that he will say and do whatever is convenient at this moment in time, then turn around and prevaricate as soon as the political winds shift.

And this distinguishes him from every other politician in the world how?
posted by Trurl at 6:40 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if voting for Romney might actually be better for the left. Romney's track record hasn't been very far to the right of Obama. He's not likely to push a far right social agenda.

Horseshit. As the economy keeps collapsing around him because of the dumb shit he and his fellow Republicans keep doing, a far-right social agenda is all you're going to get. Expect gays to get re-booted out of the military, expect a double-extra-super-DOMA that does its very best to make same-sex marriage illegal everywhere, expect judges and justices who are vehemently anti-woman and anti-gay, expect unstated but strict religious tests for appointees, expect some degree of re-segregated schools.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:55 AM on September 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


calling a nobel prize winner an idiot = instant discrediting of your arguments

Why? Because Krugman is infallible? Perhaps my choice of wording was too blunt and I should have said "he's an idiot on this specific issue".

Regardless, yes, I'm aware that Krugman has argued that the stimulus was too small and he has acknowledged we are in a liquidity trap, thankfully. Unfortunately, his response has been the same: much more stimulus from the Feds. He argued the same in Japan - who is going on 20+ years of economic malaise. Yes, I understand the nuance of his argument - that Japan spent too little too late to make an impact, but it's hard to say what the outcome would have been even if they had flooded the Japanese economy with stimulus from the outset.

This is all very messy stuff and there really are no good solutions to it. Keeping people in jobs will help, yes (aid to states for teachers, etc.), but two of the biggest sinkholes are lack of consumer and municipal spending. Both of those are severely constrained by a lack of disposable income. Until things swing back into balance and debt is paid down, don't expect any significant increases in demand.
posted by tgrundke at 6:55 AM on September 10, 2011


I wonder if voting for Romney might actually be better for the left. Romney's track record hasn't been very far to the right of Obama. He's not likely to push a far right social agenda.

I remember people saying the same thing about George W. Bush vis-a-vis Al Gore in the 2000 election. Don't believe it.


Well, to be fair, the idea underlying that has been some sort of zombie trotskyism: the dialectic advances by crisis caused by the underlying contradictions of the capitalist system. By precipitating a crisis you work to advance the inevitable progress of history. I think you'd be hard pressed to argue that the Bush presidency didn't precipitate several crises for the U.S. (and by extension, the world.)

The problem is that the only Trotskyists in the American political system are in the Republican party and they are the ones most poised to profit from crisis (see Iraq War.)

I think the thing is that, long term, the Democratic party will absorb the "moderate Republicans." In 2012, the options are:

A) Obama wins, pursues policies favoring Wall Street but socially tolerant, with modest efforts towards environmental improvements.

B) Romney wins, pursues policies favoring Wall Street but has to try to cater to the radical wing of the Republican party pleasing no one.

C) Perry wins, pursues policies which frighten Wall Street and radicalize the political system.

With any option you have the basic fact that a significant block of Republican voters *is* radicalized. A Romney presidency would split the Republican party far more than the Obama presidency has for the Dems. As long as the Clinton/Obama/New Democrats pursue policies friendly to Wall Street I think this shift is inevitable.

So, it doesn't really matter whether you vote for Obama or not, unless you are mainly concerned about social and environment policy. The problem with being mainly concern about social and evironmental policy is that the policies of Wall Street are destablizing this country. The stagnation and decline of incomes for 50% of the US, the decimation of cities and towns across the West and Midwest (and East), stagnant employment, are radicalizing politics in this country and radical politics in the US is *right-wing* politics.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:58 AM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


There are actually more than two schools of thought.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:58 AM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I never understood the cash for clunkers program. Unemployment is rampant, people are losing their houses, families are going bankrupt from medical expenses, folks are homeless, and the solution is a lame attempt at stimulating the economy by giving a handout to people who are still doing well enough to afford a new car?!? I remember the first time I saw someone begging on the street in another country and thinking "Man, I'm sure lucky to be an American!" Now beggars are on every major intersection here, with their sad one sentence cardboard biographies of woe and despair. It wasn't like this when the highest marginal tax rate was 70% and superstar CEO's and athletes only made a few million a year. We're fucked, and we're doing it to ourselves; and it's sad that's those are the only two things that liberals, oligarchs, and the tea party types can agree on.
posted by Daddy-O at 7:01 AM on September 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


You know, you can have cyclical, structural, and debt-load problems all at the same time. That's what we have, but mot members of the body politic identify exactly one and run with it so we can't have nice policy. posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:03 AM on September 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


Export Congress to Sweden.... posted by Vetinari

Nice try, Havelock.
posted by schmod at 7:05 AM on September 10, 2011


nice summary there, robot.
posted by tgrundke at 7:11 AM on September 10, 2011


Is there any hope out there? Are there sane people in the bureaucracy moving levers in the background to stop the lunacy I don't know about?

Is there any way to stop what seems like an inevitable slide to the U.S. becoming a Latin American country where the vast populace is poor while the tiny elite sits behind their shiny walls of oligarchic privilege?

It seems like insanity has taken hold in our political system and that the roller coaster has not even made it to the top of the first big hill yet.

And Obama, even his biggest "success" (the health care bill) was so full of concessions and disappointment. The GOP has their foot on his neck. Why would they let him up? Bring on Rick Perry, the fanatically ultraconservative Supreme Court that will follow and who knows what kind of yahoo economics and diplomacy he will create.

I am beginning to feel GW Bush was Commodus. (Think about it: Commodus wanted to be a Gladiator/Bush flying in on the fighter plane. Same kind of puerile fantasies going on there. Oh, and there's the fact they set up their Empires to be driven into the ground.) No matter how good or bad the next person is there's no going back, only inevitable decline.
posted by MasonDixon at 7:11 AM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Alright, I'll give that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to go for Romney over Obama at least from the left. I'll give that much, but I have still yet to hear a solid reason to vote for Obama again. After this much rhetoric and capitulation, I've got no reason to believe it will be any different and I'm tired of it. At this point, I'd like to see Krugman drafted into a Democratic primary challenge.

Maybe I'm a bit naive in hoping Romney would bring his party's Overton window focus back left enough to "Firmly right-wing" rather than whatever it could be called today. Maybe I'm far too idealistic in hoping maybe he really would provoke that rift in the GOP. I can say this though. We're not getting anywhere promising in the next four years without a sweeping left-wing Congressional mandate, and that won't happen the way things are going.

Pardon me. It's the frustration talking as much as anything. It doesn't help that there's not a (R) in politics today who couldn't beat Obama by 20 percentage points in this state. I'd just much rather it be Romney than Perry so I can pretend it's just hardcore Republican territory, not collective madness.
posted by Saydur at 7:16 AM on September 10, 2011


Nice try, Havelock.

nice summary there, robot.


Nice job confusing me so I can't tell who's sarcastic and who's sincere, guys.

I'm pretty much counting on some sort of debt jubilee or amnesty within the next few years.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:17 AM on September 10, 2011


I'm pretty much counting on some sort of debt jubilee or amnesty within the next few years.


Inflation will pretty much do the job for you in the end.
posted by unSane at 7:20 AM on September 10, 2011


@ faint -

Ha! I was being sincere in mine. ;-)
posted by tgrundke at 7:22 AM on September 10, 2011


I suppose that I forgot to say that some of the solutions are disastrously bad for the other categories. Austerity digs a cyclical problem deeper, and probably cuts real investment that you need to solve a structural problem, but other structural fixes are free money and help everything. Debt forgiveness increases uncertainty (you can't loan somebody money if it'll get forgiven away; solvent entities can get all their assets removed) and messes with the fundamentals (some companies got in debt because they're inefficient). Cheap credit lets structural problems dig in and zombies to keep shuffling.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:22 AM on September 10, 2011


This is literally the opposite of proven economic orthodoxy going back for over eighty years. Stimulus can be more or less efficient but nobody seriously questions that - properly applied - it can indeed help stimulate growth.

Yep, and economic orthodoxy is wrong. Japan did EXACTLY what the economists said to do, and they are a fucking wreck.
posted by Malor at 7:26 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everything Obama proposed that encourages jobs is temporary and a lot of that was simply deficit arbitrage -- subsidizing state and local government spending prevented in the first instance by balanced budget rules at those levels of government. Everything he proposed that would actually hurt jobs -- higher taxes on investment and professional and executive incomes -- was permanent.

There was ZERO evidence in this speech that Obama has insight into private sector job creation -- most importantly that jobs are an integral part of long-term capital planning. The only thing government can do encourage job creation are permanent changes to aggregate demand (general tax cuts or transfer payments) or return on business investment, including taxes, regulations, and cost and availability of labor. The one nod Obama makes in that direction -- ever more funding for government approved schooling -- is completely off-base, since the one problem we don't have is a lack of education among job seekers. (If anything, we have fetish for diplomas that are far less valuable than an IQ test and a probationary period to assess work ethic.)
posted by MattD at 7:26 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I like the idea of a debt jubilee because, hey, jubilee!
posted by longtime_lurker at 7:27 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unemployment is high because high unemployment benefits corporations, period. America is not a Capitalist society, it's a Corporatist one; we claim we want an unfettered Free Market but "too big to fail" proved that what we really want is a government and taxpayer subsidized market.

With high unemployment (and health insurance controlled by employers) workers will work extra hours for no extra pay because what the fuck else are they going to do about it? And when you can get 10 people to willingly to the work of 20 for the pay of 8, why the hell would you do anything to change that? Especially if, when one of them gets uppity, you can toss him out and pick from the long line of folks outside who are willing to replace him for even cheaper.

This isn't an Obama vs. Boehner issue, it's a Corporatism vs. America issue. Since the market is global, you and I are no longer as important as anything other than cheap labor. Of course corporations aren't overtaxed and overregulated; we've given them tons of advantages with no strings attached that would obligate them to repay through creating jobs or even paying taxes.

We can argue all day about how Capitalism should work, but it's all theoretical because Capitalism isn't what's in place.
posted by Legomancer at 7:27 AM on September 10, 2011 [80 favorites]


I have still yet to hear a solid reason to vote for Obama again.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 74 years old, in poor health, and has said she'd like to serve as long as Brandeis did, which puts her at ready to leave in 2015.
posted by headspace at 7:28 AM on September 10, 2011 [36 favorites]


The only thing government can do encourage job creation are permanent changes to aggregate demand (general tax cuts or transfer payments) or return on business investment, including taxes, regulations, and cost and availability of labor.

lolwut? The government can directly encourage job creation by buying things. Whether it be roads, schools or paper supplies.
posted by Talez at 7:39 AM on September 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Yep, and economic orthodoxy is wrong.

[citation needed]

Japan did EXACTLY what the economists said to do, and they are a fucking wreck.

The economists didn't tell them to provide inadequate stimulus, but that's what they did anyway.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:41 AM on September 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Speaking as a small business employee, when the Obama stimulus 30% tax credit was in place, our business dropped, but we didn't get hurt too bad. The stimulus ended last January, replaced by a a 10% credit that most buyers interpret as none at all. The result: our gross fell by 25% and we laid off our best employee for five months.

So from this foxhole, it's looking like stimulus worked, but not long enough.

There is a reason austerity programs cause rioting: it's blatant upward wealth transfer in hard times.

If you are wondering where the angry left is at these days, they were on the docks at Longview this week. We ned more industrial action. The cat likes cream.
posted by warbaby at 7:43 AM on September 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


I have still yet to hear a solid reason to vote for Obama again.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 74 years old, in poor health, and has said she'd like to serve as long as Brandeis did, which puts her at ready to leave in 2015.


That sounds like a very solid reason to campaign for her to step down before the election.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:44 AM on September 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


> This is literally the opposite of proven economic orthodoxy going back for over eighty years.
> Stimulus can be more or less efficient but nobody seriously questions that - properly applied
> - it can indeed help stimulate growth.

Slight derail, but is there anybody, anybody at all, in this crowd who remembers global warming and seriously wants to combat it? Just a reminder that doing so means pretty much giving up the growth model of prosperity and accepting drastically lowered consumption--forever. Whatever that may mean (hint, pain.) If you can't look at conditions now and tolerate them and ask for worse, when are you going to bite the bullet? (I know, later...)
posted by jfuller at 7:45 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Alright, I'll give that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to go for Romney over Obama at least from the left. I'll give that much, but I have still yet to hear a solid reason to vote for Obama again.

How can you even write those two sentences next to each other?! If you think that Obama is better than Romney, you vote for Obama, you putz.
posted by TypographicalError at 7:54 AM on September 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


If we had a WPA-type program to rip out every single pane window in private residences and replace it with low-E thermopane, that would be both economic growth and lowered energy consumption.

It's simple work so it could absorb large amounts of unemployed labor, the glass could be recycled and it would expand local production.

You don't drive around on your starter motor, you use it to kick the engine into life and then go. Restructuring the economy through demand stimulus and creating employment makes a hell of a lot more sense than going around shooting the wounded.
posted by warbaby at 7:57 AM on September 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


Can't it be both a failure to take the medicine on bad past investments (let the shitty businesses fail no matter how big) and a need to stimulate demand, by building infrastructure, for example?

No. The two are diametrically opposite. One says we need to stimulate because we still have the capacity. The other says stimulus is useless because our productive capability is wiped out. I'll let you guess which one is favorable to those who want to keep taxes on the wealthiest Americans low.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:57 AM on September 10, 2011


Here is the problem: people in the US are used to a standard of living that the country can no longer support. That is all. First world incomes are in the (long) process of equalizing with formerly second-world places like China, Taiwan, India etc. All the rest is simply the mechanics of how to get from A to B. It's happening and there's nothing you or anyone else can do to stop it. The century of American hegemony is over.

Meanwhile the rich get astronomically richer.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:59 AM on September 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Meanwhile the rich get astronomically richer.

The wonders of arbitrage. Third world labour making goods at first world prices!
posted by Talez at 8:02 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


When S&P lowered out credit rating to AA what did everyone do? They bought U.S. treasury bonds. Even though they are at essentially zero payout.

If we are so "burdened" by debt why would investors be stashing their money in treasuries?

It seems some of you have heard so much about our "debt" problem from the media that you are falling for the Repub talking points. The public sector has been shedding jobs, real actual jobs, in pursuit of debt reduction. It's all a fallacy.

The conservatives are playing this game to get Social Security privatized, plain and simple. They want nothing more than to take all that money the government collects and hand it over to their financial benefactors.

By embracing austerity measures by cutting and gutting social programs like SS and Medicare/ Medicaid ( but not Defense NEVER Defense) the only thing that will grow is a select group of individual's bank accounts. YOU ARE NOT IN THAT GROUP.

When 20% of our population owns 60-70% of the wealth of our country we, the other 80%, do not have to "take it in the teeth." When the top 400 wealthiest people in the U.S. own as much as the bottom 53 MILLION Americans WE DO NOT HAVE TO TAKE IT IN THE TEETH.

We gotta change our campaign finance laws, this is driving me crazy.
posted by Max Power at 8:13 AM on September 10, 2011 [49 favorites]


Side note: What astounds me is that Obama is calling for more money to rebuild K12 and college physical infrastructure. This is in direct opposition to the coming revolution and fast moving trend in distributed education technologies.

Its because this is what will have both the highest chance of passing congress and what will put maximum electoral pressure on them. Its time to get realistic and look at the poll numbers. The American people, wisely or not, are convinced that government spending is a problem. So "job retraining" programs aren't going to put any political pressure on the GOP. Obama's taking something everyone wants, good roads and schools, and saying do this and I'll give you two million jobs. When there are no jobs out there for computer programmers, you aren't going to jumpstart the economy by training people. You need quick and broad government spending that will have immediate effect to stimulate demand. Then you'll need the computer programmers.

Is this politically chosen? You're damn right it is. Because Republican intransigence a political problem.. The fact is that if Ronald Reagan were president, the stimulus hose would have been turned on long ago. That's how political the GOP is about this.

As for being run by the "bankers," by every single definition you provide, every president in history has been run by the bankers. Seriously, who is your prototypical "good" president by these terms? Carter?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:17 AM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Legomancer: "it's a Corporatism vs. America issue."

QFT. How can this be resolved? There is a shadow economy with its hands on the levers of power, and no institutional or legal controls really affect it. Politics is too much of a circus to accomplish much in the time available. How is the wealthiest, best educated country in the world going to deal with this? (Hint: starting a war with China seems like a dick move.)
posted by sneebler at 8:23 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I see there's much focusing on the debt and how the "american people" have lived way above their means for years; similar observations are sometimes made to stress that European "socialism" (welfare) is at fault for the present sovereign states debt situations.

Usually, these broad generalizations are rethorical devices that are also used in political narratives aiming at distributing the "causes and fault" on everybody, so that nobody is to carry more blame than others and the index finger is not pointed at someone in particular.

But pray tell, what or who have led the american people to holding too much debt with respect to their income (and therefore ability to pay the debt...or service the debt, in financial lingo)? Are all americans, or europeans, or what have you, so much reckless they enjoy putting their future lifestyle and their children ones at risk?

If that's the case, one might think failure is the necessary outcome and a "sort of" punishment for reckless spending; but isn't that a simplistic explanation that really doesn't explain anything?

One might think that, in the last 50 years, western nations have turned from being composed of industrious, thrifty and foward looking people to a lazy, future-be-damned and consumption addicted mass. But that doesn't really seem to be the case: before the Great Depression, many people were esthatic about the prospect of "get rich with stock" schemes, and speculative bubbles weren't invented yesterday either (see South Sea Bubble, year 1720).

Could it be that reckless spending was made possible by reckless borrowing? And is it the State _as an entity_ the mainproblem, or (more likely imho) is it that the last Governments were hopelessy corrupt and in bed with Wall Street?
posted by elpapacito at 8:24 AM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


The only thing you can be sure of with Romney is that he will say and do whatever is convenient at this moment in time, then turn around and prevaricate as soon as the political winds shift.

And this distinguishes him from every other politician in the world how?


This helps nothing. There are honest politicians out there, usually young. Painting them all with the same brush is tantamount to throwing up your hands, which the bad guys love. (And there are bad guys. They're just not all bad, or some are much worse than others. By their fruits shall ye know them.)
posted by JHarris at 8:31 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


By embracing austerity measures by cutting and gutting social programs like SS and Medicare/ Medicaid ( but not Defense NEVER Defense) the only thing that will grow is a select group of individual's bank accounts. YOU ARE NOT IN THAT GROUP.

There are few on this board who don't see it like you do. I'm certain the President agrees. But guess what, the GOP won a pretty big victory on those very points this year. Just talking past them won't convince them. You have to take the wind out of their sails first and demonstrate to the American people how much bullshit this really is. There's no other way to do it. Shouting '60s liberalism from the rooftops hasn't worked since 1968, the year of my birth.

Instead, you have to blunt their drive, get the economy restarted and then use the increased tax monies to do the other stuff.

What I'm saying is that we need the votes to do anything. Only a constitutional amendment or a different Supreme Court would change the impact of the long series of campaign-finance rulings that have tied political contributions to constitutionally-protected speech.

I understand what I am saying. What I'm saying is that this isn't a video game. That results are hard and come slow and require constant and continuous effort on our parts.. This isn't a TV show. Its a long, slow, very difficult long slog. Pie-in-the-sky-Obama-says-it-and-its-done fantasies don't cut it. This president has won huge victories in a tough climate, like health care, financial reform and the repeal of DADT. None of those were won without a hard slog and its just the beginning.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:31 AM on September 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Nobel Prize winner a moron you pretty much instantly discredit yourself.

Nobel prizes for "economics" have been a joke for a long time and preferably should not be handed out anymore at all. To make things worse, they are highly political.

(Krugman did a lot of work on Japan, and points to Japan as an example of what happens to an economy when stimulus comes too little, too late)

Krugman does not strike me as exceptionally smart but I give him one thing: His argument is brilliant and unbeatable. Best feature: it can't be falsified or contradicted. Every time a stimulus does not work Krugman cries "too little, too late". What would be enough? 1 Trillion? 10? 100? 1000? His argument never fails. It can't fail. In the hard sciences we call such things bullshit, unscientific, voodoo or "economics".

Japan ramped up its debt to nearly 300% GDP and has basically in a recession, or at least a stagnation the last 20 years. "too late, too little".

Krugman also does not understand the connection between money creation and debt. I am a supporter of the opinion that money IS debt. Debt can only be served with further debt. And an increase in debt relies in GDP growth and collateral. Most Americans are maxed out and don't have any possible collateral for further loans. And if you have no collateral for credit, it is irrelevant for you if the FED interest rate is 10% or 1%. It only helps to recapitalize the banks which have basically been bankrupt since 2007.

Yes, a war against China on an epic scale might change things. In the end it wasn't Roosevelts "New Deal" that ended the great depression but Hitler, who waged war with America and forced them to ramp up their war spendings to >40% of GDP. Nevertheless Hitler was never credited with a Nobel Prize for ending the depression. Based on "government stimulus programs" Hitler, like Krugman, always though big.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 8:38 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Every time a stimulus does not work Krugman cries "too little, too late". What would be enough? 1 Trillion?

Well for Obama's stimulus Krugman warned that it was too little, so he wasn't too late, just not listened to.
posted by Max Power at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


confrontation with China

They've put down their chips on the green infrastructure research and investment. Our reaction has been "Drill, Baby, Drill". Kind of like if we'd reacted to Sputnik with a push for more Diesel locomotives.

We need massive infrastructure investment in this country just to tread water. If we can find a way to do it for buildings and not just transportation we also get the benefit of vastly lowered long term costs. Because of how we finance buildings and make investments in this country it is virtually impossible to spend money today on an improvement that will last 40 years and be investment positive for 31 of those years. This is the sort of thing government policy can positively impact at low marginal costs.

But, it takes time, so not immediately stimulative, and it takes fees or taxes. We've been hearing how we can't invest in the next big building push for the last three plus years because those things need planning and so are not immediately stimulative. Somehow we need to start paying attention to impacts more than six months down the road.

I'm pessimistic with an electorate that doesn't seem to have a six month memory that this will happen.
posted by meinvt at 8:44 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


The American people, wisely or not, are convinced that government spending is a problem.

Maybe it was all those speeches where Obama said we were spending too much and had to reduce our debt?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:57 AM on September 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


I understand what I am saying. What I'm saying is that this isn't a video game...This isn't a TV show. Its a long, slow, very difficult long slog. Pie-in-the-sky-Obama-says-it-and-its-done fantasies don't cut it.

Yes yes, we are all stupid video game fantasizing children because we don't agree with you, we know.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:02 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder if voting for Romney might actually be better for the left. Romney's track record hasn't been very far to the right of Obama.

Supreme court.
posted by goethean at 9:08 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yet, in Obama's job's speech all he talked about was tax cuts. Obama just wants those tax cuts to go to different people then the republicans.
That's one of the most annoying things about Obama. He completely buys into the republican rhetoric about Taxes, and amplifies it.


From the President's speech the other night:
I'm also well aware that there are many Republicans who don't believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford it. But here is what every American knows. While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets. Right now, Warren Buffet pays a lower tax rate than his secretary –- an outrage he has asked us to fix. We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake, and where everybody pays their fair share. And by the way I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that, if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order.

Sounds to me like he's calling for a tax hike on the rich. That's not your take away?
posted by NoMich at 9:11 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Over the Horizon: Is worrying about war with China a self-fulfilling prophecy?
posted by homunculus at 9:28 AM on September 10, 2011


this is an ENERGY problem. do whatever you want, until there's a (unlikely) way to physically power all the growth needed to erase all this debt, consumption is necessarily limited.
posted by ninjew at 9:29 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not just a question of too much or too little, but on what. Infrastructure investment spending will be a lot more powerful than consumer spending stimulus, because with a hollowed-out manufacturing economy and race-to-the bottom service sector where Wal-Mart employees are given guidance on how to apply for food stamps, money spent in the consumer sector does not spend a lot of time circulating in the domestic economy; it either rockets offshore or into profit taking at the upper end of the income spectrum. So it stimulates the Chinese economy, the Swiss ski resort and private island real estate sectors and so forth, but the domestic economy, not so much. The game has changed and the old approaches only applied when our economy had solid bones under it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:31 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why don't you think Paul Krugman is all that smart? Is there some factual basis for this opinion?
posted by humanfont at 9:40 AM on September 10, 2011


As Their States’ Bridges And Roads Crumble, GOP Leaders Remain Opposed To Infrastructure Investment
posted by homunculus at 9:42 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Every time a stimulus does not work Krugman cries "too little, too late". What would be enough? 1 Trillion? 10? 100? 1000? His argument never fails. It can't fail.

Well if you want specifics, RTFAs as they say. He was pretty clear and cogent about how, if your economy is in a multi-trillion dollar hole, a stimulus of $787 billion, the majority of which are mostly ineffective tax cuts, is not enough.

He was also very clear about how, if the stimulus doesn't work well enough, the political will to create more stimulus will be lost. And how rising interest rates, bond vigilantes, and inflation were all empty threats. Currently, he's 5-0, so if the flaming idiot continues to be right, how long does that make him a flaming idiot?
posted by fungible at 9:44 AM on September 10, 2011 [18 favorites]


...but GOP won't pass it. Why not?
Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:47 AM on September 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Dr.Enormous: " Romney is a damn weasel, as anybody from Mass can tell you. He's currently running on a platform of "all those things I said to get elected in Mass, and did once I was governor, are no longer true." The only thing you can be sure of with Romney is that he will say and do whatever is convenient at this moment in time, then turn around and prevaricate as soon as the political winds shift."

As somebody from Massachusetts, I can confirm what Dr. Enormous says. He is absolutely a damn weasel. He's not really even trying to hide his weasality. Look how he hangs out with the Tea Party all of a sudden. Weasel is a good word for him. Don't vote for Romney. He outsourced jobs his own self but now has a lot to say about creating jobs.
posted by theredpen at 9:48 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've been thinking about how many people I know acknowledge that government spending on war can stimulate the economy but that government spending on internal programs and building can not. That attitude reminds me of this sentence from Orwell's 1984:
The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living.
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:58 AM on September 10, 2011 [14 favorites]


Romney strikes me as a chameleon, not a weasel. That means that if it becomes to his advantage to govern to the center instead of the right he will do it. He is pretty unscary outside of potential Supreme Court stuff. The Mass health care law is a good example of his flexibility. You also have to consider that whoever the President is will put results ahead of ideology, it's a lot harder to get reelected when the economy is tanking.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:59 AM on September 10, 2011


I understand what I am saying. What I'm saying is that this isn't a video game...This isn't a TV show. Its a long, slow, very difficult long slog. Pie-in-the-sky-Obama-says-it-and-its-done fantasies don't cut it.

Yes yes, we are all stupid video game fantasizing children because we don't agree with you, we know.


You fail to address my larger point which is that it is a mistake to think that sudden, giant changes to the direction this country has been moving in is impossible. My argument is that TV and film depictions of the presidency have brought about a belief that large change can be done quickly and that much of the criticism towards the president on the left is born of this fallacy.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:04 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The current high-levels of US debt are by (Republican) design and are a political tool only, not really a meaningful economic issue. I really hate how willing so many of you are to swallow the same political ploy the Republicans have been using to advance their agenda of rolling back the New Deal since the New Deal era.

Until we can all finally agree and accept that the deficits are pure political nonsense--a bogeyman the R's leverage because of its simple, intuitive appeal to our commonsense (which doesn't apply to the kind of entity that the US government is in the same way it applies to families no matter how many times Obama gets duped along with the rest of you into repeating that carefully think-tank sculpted message.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:04 AM on September 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


You fail to address my larger point which is that it is a mistake to think that sudden, giant changes to the direction this country has been moving in is impossible.

You are working from the logical fallacy that people who ask the President not to embrace austerity rhetoric are saying that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:09 AM on September 10, 2011


(oops)... until then, we're not going to get anywhere (or something to that effect)...
posted by saulgoodman at 10:10 AM on September 10, 2011


(Japan has a big problem which the US does not have:demographics)
posted by mumimor at 10:10 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why isn't anyone talking about the fact that "jobs" as we know them are NOT the future economy, and the marketplace of information and innovation is? Instead of a recovery based ONLY on working for "the man," as it were, we should be thinking about supporting inventors and entrepreneurs, and of course, those who work with them.

Otherwise, guess what country becomes the bitch of India and China?
posted by xenophile at 10:18 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Consider this: as a proportion of GDP, our deficits still aren't even at WWII levels--and what happened right after we hit those previous historically high levels? We saw the biggest period of economic growth and expansion in our history--because we used our debt to invest in programs and infrastructure that helped make the US more economically verdant and prosperous, instead of just pissing revenue away on bankers.

Even though it's an invalid analogy, even in our families we don't just use the absolute dollar amount of our personal debt to figure out how well we're doing. We look at our ratio of debt to income. As long as the ratio isn't too out of whack, we can manage.


we should be thinking about supporting inventors and entrepreneurs, and of course, those who work with them.

Then who's going to buy their crap then? And who out there in the marketplace is demanding more crap at this particular point in history?

Demand is the only reason markets exist. What good is a supply-side without a demand side? And how the hell is the part of the economic system that by definition can only succeed economically by anticipating and satisfying demand supposed to succeed when there is no demand?

It's like that old trope about a man pulling himself up by his own bootstraps: people seem to think it's sort of metaphorically possible when we talk about economics, even though we all know it's physically impossible in the real world. How appropriate that our metaphor for the highest capitalist ideal is something even children just out of elementary school know to be impossible and absurd.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:29 AM on September 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


There was ZERO evidence in this speech that Obama has insight into private sector job creation -- most importantly that jobs are an integral part of long-term capital planning.

Possibly because every time someone from the private sector pipes up about this, they're pretty vague about what exactly the necessary insight is.

The only thing government can do encourage job creation are permanent changes to aggregate demand (general tax cuts or transfer payments) or return on business investment, including taxes, regulations, and cost and availability of labor.

Given wage stagnation and oversupply, the cost and availability of labor seem unlikely to be a problem. Both effective and statutory tax rates have been falling over the last 30 years. Regulatory enforcement doesn't seem like it's being turned up. So... your wish list has been pretty effectively fulfilled. And yet the job market is what it is.
posted by weston at 10:31 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


You are working from the logical fallacy that people who ask the President not to embrace austerity rhetoric are saying that.

Well, frankly, the country is spending too much money. Too much on arms, too much on the wrong foreign aid, too much on subsidies to industries which need no subsidy, too much on reimbursing hospitals for emergency room care for the uninsured. These are true facts. And if the American people's attention can be diverted to them then the President is doing the right thing.

It is also true that there are problems with the long-term solvency of medicare, and, over the longer term Social Security. This isn't ideology, its simple math.

What the president has done is continually protect those programs that serve those needs while proposing to cut defense, oil subsidies, and other unneeded gimmies to the powerful. He continues to push for tax increases on the wealthy. And he does all of it by taking the rhetoric of the other party and turning it on its head. The GOP cares not a whit about the debt--they are only for low taxes and low regulation. Obama points out rightly that we actually do have a large deficit and that most of that spending comes from tax and subsidy giveaways to the rich. What is wrong with that?

The American peoplke
posted by Ironmouth at 10:32 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: "Romney strikes me as a chameleon, not a weasel. That means that if it becomes to his advantage to govern to the center instead of the right he will do it. He is pretty unscary outside of potential Supreme Court stuff. The Mass health care law is a good example of his flexibility. You also have to consider that whoever the President is will put results ahead of ideology, it's a lot harder to get reelected when the economy is tanking"

He's scarier to me than any set of his actions, because he will do whatever it takes to get elected/power/wealthier, and you don't know which Romney you're going to get -- the trying-to-appease-East-Coast-elites Romney? Or the trying-to-stay-elected-by-crazy-red-staters-who-are-into-big-government-when-it-comes-to-civil-liberties Romney? Sure, he's flexible all right. Real flexible. So call him what you will, but don't vote for him.
posted by theredpen at 10:33 AM on September 10, 2011


"Romney strikes me as a chameleon, not a weasel. That means that if it becomes to his advantage to govern to the center instead of the right he will do it. He is pretty unscary outside of potential Supreme Court stuff. The Mass health care law is a good example of his flexibility. You also have to consider that whoever the President is will put results ahead of ideology, it's a lot harder to get reelected when the economy is tanking"

So, what you are saying is that we should elect the candidate who is lying over the one that has told the truth over and over again, in the hopes that the liar is only lying this time?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:36 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in the "information" economy. The only thing I have to offer is my professional opinion, writing, drawings and paperwork. However, I also recognize that we live in a physical world. What matters to us are physical things: Shelter, food, transportation, communications devices and the way that they work.

The information economy is important only so far as it makes these physical things more effective, useful, economical or beautiful. Unfortunately, we've reached a point where the abstractions we've created to measure ownership and wealth have become vastly disconnected from the physical realities that create them.

I believe most people want to do something useful, and want good place to live, decent food and an opportunity to enjoy life in return. Our governmental laws prohibit people from just finding land, materials and tools and doing this, because those things are all owned and you need to pay for them first. However, the government is also largely politically prohibited from stepping in and offering people the opportunity to get that compensation for doing those things when no one else will.

I see the failure in our economy as primarily one of cutting through the blanket of financial and monetary thinking to directly address the problem of what physical work would bring value to the country and how can we, as a society, make that work happen at the lowest societal cost. This leads me to support government sponsored employment programs at the current moment in time.
posted by meinvt at 10:37 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those are not true facts, Ironmouth. They are opinions. See here for a useful guide to distinguishing the two.

Even if you mean, literally we're spending too much because we're running deficits at all, well, in that case, we've always been spending too much, and the one time we didn't run any deficits and actually completely balanced our long term debts, we went into an economic free fall.

Even so, you could just as well say it's not that we're spending too much money (I think we're spending way too little for one), but simply not raising enough revenue. It's not like our money is indexed to some naturally occurring absolute scale or anything. We just make this crap up, you know.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:39 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: " You also have to consider that whoever the President is will put results ahead of ideology"

And also, I most certainly do not! I would have thought members of Congress would put results ahead of ideology and that's not exactly the case now, is it?

I also would have thought they'd have the basic decency to attend a presidential talk without sniggering and complaining about how they had to skip their pre-football-barbecues, but they don't do that, either.
posted by theredpen at 10:42 AM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


^ The President has a much more diverse set of people to please.

Well, frankly, the country is spending too much money. Too much on arms, too much on the wrong foreign aid, too much on subsidies to industries which need no subsidy, too much on reimbursing hospitals for emergency room care for the uninsured. These are true facts. And if the American people's attention can be diverted to them then the President is doing the right thing.

Now we can debate all this without pretending the opposition are fantasizing illogical children, right? Okay, let's try and do that going forward.

I think it's true we have long term spending problems, the issue with the current austerity rhetoric is that the argument is being made that these future cuts are going to benefit our economy in the now, and nothing really backs that up. In the short term what we need is more spending, and that should be the focus of the rhetoric. When the cuts don't benefit the economy I would rather the rhetoric that claimed they would was from the right instead of the left.

In the end, every cut is imaginary anyway when we put them out ten years away. Every reform is too. The next congress and the next President can mess up your best laid plans.

So, what you are saying is that we should elect the candidate who is lying over the one that has told the truth over and over again, in the hopes that the liar is only lying this time?

We should trust him to be himself, which is someone who will shift with the wind much like Obama does. If we keep up strong liberal pressure on him he will respond to it. In the end, only a stupid illogical child would be scared of him, pie-in-the-sky-Romney-says-it-and-its-done fantasies don't cut it, anything he tries to do will be a hard slog.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:45 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: "We should trust him to be himself, which is someone who will shift with the wind much like Obama does"

No thanks.
posted by theredpen at 10:51 AM on September 10, 2011


I'm just gonna blame the insurance companies. It is a simpler narrative.

Heh, speaking of being under-regulated...I gather the standards being adopted by the EU just won't work in the US because something something.
posted by Hoopo at 10:57 AM on September 10, 2011


Those are not true facts, Ironmouth. They are opinions. See here for a useful guide to distinguishing the two.

Even if you mean, literally we're spending too much because we're running deficits at all, well, in that case, we've always been spending too much, and the one time we didn't run any deficits and actually completely balanced our long term debts, we went into an economic free fall.

Even so, you could just as well say it's not that we're spending too much money (I think we're spending way too little for one), but simply not raising enough revenue. It's not like our money is indexed to some naturally occurring absolute scale or anything. We just make this crap up, you know.


So, you deny the fact that we are currently in a period where federal government debt is at a particularly high ratio relative to GDP? Govt debt held by the public is 62% of GDP, a number that we have not seen since the 1940s.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_public_debt#cite_note-13

Mostly the problem is revenue. Which is why the President wants to increase it. And he wants to stimulate the economy out of funds raised through tax increases, thus not making our problems worse.

These are indeed true facts. They cannot be denied. To act like the numbers don't exist is foolish and helps the GOP. To point out the facts is smart and weakens them.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:59 AM on September 10, 2011


If we keep up strong liberal pressure on him he will respond to it.

Really? "Strong liberal pressure" will make Romney do the right thing? Why? Because he might lose that all important "Liberals for Romney" bloc that put him over the top?

Laughable. Its gonna take a lot more than using a phrase I did to put lipstick on that pig.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on September 10, 2011


Really? "Strong liberal pressure" will make Romney do the right thing? Why?

He will get realistic and look at the poll numbers, he plays to the crowd. It pretty much defines his career and why he simultaneously hates and supports the Obama vision for healthcare.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2011


No, the problem is too much debt --(Malor)

Well, no, the problem is not enough revenue. If revenues were higher the debt wouldn't be "too much", it's all relative. So goes the argument. IMO markets are shrinking due to demographic declines, just as happening in Japan. Since we can't fix demographics (ie. revenue) only way is reduce debt.
posted by stbalbach at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2011


Yeah, you can't really solve the issue just with tax increases but you can take it way out of the shock doctrine crisis mode and handle it at a more reasonable time.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:18 AM on September 10, 2011


"If we keep up strong liberal pressure on him he will respond to it."

If my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle.

Under what imaginary scheme do you think that Romney will be more responsive to liberal pressure than Obama, and under what imaginary scheme do you think that organized liberal pressure exists? Half the leftists here are of the opinion that the best thing for America would be a total collapse so that, somehow, we get it better the second time around.

(Oh, and extra points for immediately assuming that Ironmouth was personally insulting you. Way to go into dueling mode before the glove slap.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 AM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, frankly, the country is spending too much money. ...too much on the wrong foreign aid...
I think you're just repeating talking points here, given that foreign aid is a single-digit percentage of the federal budget.
posted by !Jim at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2011


Not one mention in this entire thread about the expense of US war making? That's weird.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:26 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Under what imaginary scheme do you think that Romney will be more responsive to liberal pressure than Obama

I never said more responsive, all I said is he does not particularly scare me. Like Obama and the conservatives in Congress nothing can be accomplished without some level of bipartisan agreement.

(Oh, and extra points for immediately assuming that Ironmouth was personally insulting you. Way to go into dueling mode before the glove slap.)

Yes, I always use the royal "We" when discussing personal insults about me.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:26 AM on September 10, 2011


I never said more responsive, all I said is he does not particularly scare me. Like Obama and the conservatives in Congress nothing can be accomplished without some level of bipartisan agreement.

So, your idea of bipartisan agreement is to elect a Republican?
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:38 AM on September 10, 2011


Dear Internet users: When considering an economic or political theory, I assure you it is not the case that policy makers and academics are unaware of major branches of thought or lack the mental capacity to comprehend it. Rather, they find the evidence and theoretical arguments in favor of that theory to be lacking. If you have never given substantial thought or study to these fields, you should know that something being "obvious" is more likely a reflection of it appealing to your worldview than it being a-priori true.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:45 AM on September 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


So, your idea of bipartisan agreement is to elect a Republican?

No, I was referring legislation ironed out by the balance of power between the parties and the different branches of government.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:48 AM on September 10, 2011


*to
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:48 AM on September 10, 2011


Mostly the problem is revenue.

Right, which isn't the same as saying the problem is we're spending too much, but that we aren't taking enough revenue in.

Since I seem to remember just going through roughly 3 decades of tax cutting, it seems a little bizarre to look at the problem as a spending one. I know the politics make it hard to put it simply, but the problem is, Republicans want to drown the gov't in a bath tub and for the last 30 years, they've been doing that. It's not a fact that we have a spending problem. We have spending needs, and a revenue problem. The problem is that something like half the population doesn't seem to want to face the fact that just by simple annual inflation, not even accounting for the increasing complexity of its various responsibilities, if the government keeps delivering only the same level of services, its budget in absolute terms will always have to grow just to stay even. Year over year overall Federal budget growth is not in itself evidence of some special kind of political problem involving creeping government expansion; it's just basic economic inevitability. To the extent, we aren't continually growing government to keep pace every year, we're falling behind wherever we were to start with.

Yes, there are major issues with how what budget we have is allocated, but we're never going to live in a world where it's possible for the size of the gov't's budget not to grow without significant declines in services over time.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:59 AM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Very interesting blog post: War--The Fiscal Stimulus of Last Resort

"War was the economic stimulus of last resort when politicians were so confused in their understanding of economics that they would not allow the government to go into debt except for national emergencies. But Keynes said there are less destructive ways to get money into people’s pockets and stimulate the economy."


"...A less costly alternative would be Milton Friedman’s hypothetical solution: simply drop money from helicopters. This has been linked to “quantitative easing” (QE), but QE as currently applied is not what Friedman described. The money has not been showered on the people and the local economy, putting money in people’s pockets, stimulating spending. It has been dropped into the reserve accounts of banks, where it has simply accumulated without reaching the productive economy. “Excess” reserves of $1.6 trillion are now sitting in reserve accounts at the Federal Reserve. A helicopter drop of the sort proposed by Friedman has not been tried."
posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:17 PM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


>We should trust him to be himself, which is someone who will shift with the wind much like Obama does. If we keep up strong liberal pressure on him he will respond to it.

In the US, the Right is far, far, far better at mobilizing political pressure than the (quasi-) Left.

Romney, as president, would cling tightly to the richer, more unified, more vigorous ideological base... and that would surely be the Right.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:21 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if voting for Romney might actually be better for the left. Romney's track record hasn't been very far to the right of Obama. He's not likely to push a far right social agenda.

Do we really need to go down that road again? Remember how there was supposedly no difference between Bush and Gore? How stupid and evil do the republicans have to be before you'd admit that they're far worse than the democrats? If anything a Romney presidency would be far worse than Bush's because he would have a Tea Party congress in power with him. There's really no limit to the amount of damage that they could do to our country.
posted by octothorpe at 12:25 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


If anything a Romney presidency would be far worse than Bush's because he would have a Tea Party congress in power with him. There's really no limit to the amount of damage that they could do to our country.

Sure there is, the filibuster over in the Senate. It can easily shut things down even if the other party has a supermajority in the Senate.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:29 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the US, the Right is far, far, far better at mobilizing political pressure than the (quasi-) Left.

Especially since one of the lefty buzzwords du jour, intersectionalism, seems to be causing greater rifts among the intellectual set rather than bridging them. And to think that this concept was actually supposed to prevent even further fracturing.
posted by Ardiril at 12:29 PM on September 10, 2011


Sure there is, the filibuster over in the Senate. It can easily shut things down even if the other party has a supermajority in the Senate.

Ok, I don't mean to pick on you, mainly because in many ways you are right. Or at least logical and pragmatic. I just worry things aren't going to fall into line the way you think they will.

For example, I worry that the Democrats, after years of being filibustered, will suddenly forget they could do it to. I worry, as was shown during Bush II, that the Democrats would just go along in an effort to retain their own seats.

Letting Romney win and letting the Tea Party to continue its antics will lead to serious issues to the US economy and US power abroad.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:42 PM on September 10, 2011


"I never said more responsive, all I said is he does not particularly scare me. Like Obama and the conservatives in Congress nothing can be accomplished without some level of bipartisan agreement. "

Mein Gott in Himmel! Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face — You again ignore the real risks, both long-term and short, to this country that come with electing Romney, and again fantasize in direct contradiction to recent historical evidence that somehow the Democrats will be effective in putting the kibosh on it. All because you think Obama hasn't been as responsive as he could have been.

That's idiotic.

"Sure there is, the filibuster over in the Senate. It can easily shut things down even if the other party has a supermajority in the Senate."

This is another bit of wishful thinking in direct contradiction of what actually happened when Bush was in power. If it was so easy to shut things down, why didn't they? (Obligatory non-falsification answer: Because Dems are just as bad yadda yadda yadda.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:43 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Excuse me while I completely overgeneralize for a moment:

Let's not forget who we are talking about, here. A nation that stuffs its face full of deep-fried junkfood, and then sits down to watch mindless television including infomercials about miracle drugs, instant weight loss solutions, and get-rich-quick schemes. Rinse and repeat day in, day out until they get cancer or some other horrible disease, and close out their days in pain and suffering. This is a nation of people whose priorities are intensely focused on short-term pleasure and shirking hard work and personal investment (in health, fitness, knowledge, etc) as much as possible, to their extreme long-term detriment.

All the policy reforms in the world are not going to make a difference as long as the country is populated with people like this. And I'm certainly not saying I'm not part of the problem. I think it probably has to do with being too comfortable for too long. We don't value hard work and long-term planning anymore.

God; I sound like an old man.
posted by mantecol at 12:45 PM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm hoping that maybe, just maybe, Obama's found it in himself to fight back at the forces within the GOP that seem bent on regaining power no matter the price. This jobs bill gives him something that he just hasn't used all that much his presidency so far, and that's the right to use the bully pulpit to call on citizens to stop and ask themselves exactly whose interests these Republicans serve.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 12:46 PM on September 10, 2011


>What I'm saying is that we need the votes to do anything... That results are hard and come slow and require constant and continuous effort on our parts.

Ironmouth, your point about campaign finance vis a vis the Supreme Court's rulings is well taken; the structure of campaign financing really does shape everything else.

That said, the focus on "constant and continuous effort" is actually part of the problem. The Dems' problems are not of substance, not of some reified truth that the US is a conservative country, and not a matter of votes.

The problem is that the Dems apply, constantly and continously, really bad marketing.

If the Democrats stuck to simplistic, repetitive, Fear and Desire, Friend and Foe, identity-based hot-button messaging; stopped tailoring their message to the educated elite, but instead aimed it at the lower middle-class, with an emphasis on raw economics rather than lofty aspiration, such that its abiding theme became a Fight for Money rather than a Crusade for Justice; and stopped congratulating themselves so obviously on their own virtue and cleverness instead of just working, Luntz-like, on refining their sales pitch...

then they would, over time, get much better at mobilizing pressure, and thereby getting votes.

And since it is a hard truth that the wealthy really do have more power than they did in decades past, the Democrats could still accommodate them to the degree necessary, in the same backdoor way that the Republicans do-- just that whereas the Republicans market to the religious and provincial, while catering to the rich, the Democrats could still effectively cater to the rich, novelty-oriented, and civil liberty-oriented, while marketing to the poor and middle-class.
posted by darth_tedious at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I should add that Obama's speech the other night was an excellent step in this direction-- rather than thinking he should spend three years reassuring the Heartland that he was not an Angry Black Man Out to Exact Revenge, he probably should have taken the forceful stance from the beginning, and specifically making the bankers the enemy du jour (while, cynically and necessarily, reassuring them behind closed doors).
posted by darth_tedious at 1:00 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure Obama and the projected billion dollar election warchest have much to fear from the wealthy.

You again ignore the real risks, both long-term and short, to this country that come with electing Romney, and again fantasize in direct contradiction to recent historical evidence that somehow the Democrats will be effective in putting the kibosh on it.

So you are saying, in an attempt to get me to vote for Democrats, that they are going to go along with what Romney wants to accomplish?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:04 PM on September 10, 2011


Moreover, businesses aren't hiring in the US because the US isn't competitive: the US government is profligate, the US economy is over-regulated and over-taxed, the US workforce is unproductive.

Nice editorializing. I hear its recommended for the blue.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:40 PM on September 10, 2011


That was described as one of two schools of thought on the issue, not russilwvong's personal diagnosis of the situation. There may be more schools of thought and that would be editorializing by omission but that is not quite the same thing.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:45 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Moreover, businesses aren't hiring in the US because the US isn't competitive: the US government is profligate, the US economy is over-regulated and over-taxed, the US workforce is unproductive.

I blame social media sites.
posted by Ardiril at 1:52 PM on September 10, 2011


Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 74 years old, in poor health, and has said she'd like to serve as long as Brandeis did, which puts her at ready to leave in 2015.
That sounds like a very solid reason to campaign for her to step down before the election.
I would be willing to bet that, were a Supreme Court seat to open up today, the Republicans would simply not let anyone fill it, in the hopes that they win the presidency and thus can fill it themselves.

They also would turn it into a campaign talking point: Obama is hurting America by nominating these people like (insert universally respected judge's name here).
posted by Flunkie at 1:57 PM on September 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


"So you are saying, in an attempt to get me to vote for Democrats, that they are going to go along with what Romney wants to accomplish?"

I am saying that expecting them to be able to stop it is wishful thinking, given the examples of recent history. I am also saying that Democrats are more responsive to liberal pressure than Republicans are.

I am not attempting to get you to vote for Democrats, I am pointing out that you are wrong about the likely consequences of not voting for Democrats, and are being reductive to the point of stupidity.

I am also now pointing out that the "What you are saying" gloss is an obnoxious one (especially since it requires a rather perverse reading to assert that's what I'm saying), and that if you'd like to not be obnoxious, you could abandon it and get more productive discussions.
posted by klangklangston at 2:00 PM on September 10, 2011


"I would be willing to bet that, were a Supreme Court seat to open up today, the Republicans would simply not let anyone fill it, in the hopes that they win the presidency and thus can fill it themselves."

If they tried that, it would be the tactic that finally broke the filibuster in the senate.
posted by klangklangston at 2:02 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am saying that expecting them to be able to stop it is wishful thinking, given the examples of recent history.

No, no. History does not show they are unable to obstruct, they can filibuster just as easily as Republicans can if they want to.

Maybe I'm wrong on this and you are right and the President actually holds a significant upper hand in this situations, it's just that I read so much about what a slog it is for our current President to pass anything so I assumed it was difficult.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:11 PM on September 10, 2011


I assure you it is not the case that policy makers and academics are unaware of major branches of thought or lack the mental capacity to comprehend it. Rather, they find the evidence and theoretical arguments in favor of that theory to be lacking. If you have never given substantial thought or study to these fields, you should know that something being "obvious" is more likely a reflection of it appealing to your worldview than it being a-priori true.


It has been my experience that the tendency to have one's worldview to, ah, "shape" what one perceives as true is equally present among 'policy makers and academics', despite how much substantial thought and study they may have expended. One sees a lot of this even in the reputedly more objective domain of the natural sciences.

This may even be true of Krugman, but even if so, that doesn't make him an idiot. On the other hand, a career of doing high-end mathematical economics and parlaying these contributions to Princeton professorship and Nobel prize suggests that even if he's wrong, he's surely not stupid.
posted by bumpkin at 2:37 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


[A few comments removed. If you want to have an argument about the nature of Metafilter, go do it on the part of the site designed for that.]
posted by cortex at 3:02 PM on September 10, 2011


ironmouth "As for being run by the "bankers," by every single definition you provide, every president in history has been run by the bankers. Seriously, who is your prototypical "good" president by these terms? Carter?"

There isn't one, within that context. Does that mean the problem doesn't exist, and that it shouldn't be dealt with? Instead, should Americans defer to what has become and every-four-year charade of false promises that resonates with our particular fear or hope of the day? Or, should we continue let our nation be diverted by issues that are purely derivative of the money-controlling-politics fiasco? We have, essentially *legalized* corruption in politics. Why do we continue to tolerate it? It's THE cause of our ills, at base.

What baffles me about this is that there have been bi-partisan attempts to fix the money-in-politics problem, but those attempts have always been defeated by the same people who have bought the system out. We are stuck

It is very upsetting to keep hearing America is in debt. That's not quite correct. Debt is a problem for those Americans who have continued to have the real value of their real wages decline; who have had their economic well-being bought out by policies that have been bought and paid for by "bankers" (a metaphor for the corporate bosses); who have had their social security contributions used to pay for unnecessary wars instead of being put into a trust fund for a rainy day - all while a large sub-class of wealthy financiers pay for legislation, and get presidents elected that makes them all the more wealthy. Wealthy corporations and the few that control them are not concerned about debt, because their capital flows and profits go where they can be best optimized.

In other words, America is becoming a zero-sum democracy.

I am weary of the stories we hear every four years, and even more weary of watching good, hard-working Americans have their emotions tweaked and continue to lose ground as the power mongers and their friends on both sides of the aisle walk away with ever more power and wealth, and then have the gall to come back and try to "fix" us, with austerity budgets, etc.

Anyone who doesn't see private money in politics as the primary driver of almost every social and fiscal problem we have, is either kidding themselves; too wrapped up in their own metaphorical economic theory framework; or a corporation or politico on the take.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:03 PM on September 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Late to the thread, but hey, here's a ridiculously naive idea that addresses the issue of consumer debt, and piggybacks on the impending fines on banks Vibrissae mentioned way upthread. What would happen if, in lieu of those banks paying those fines to the government, they had to forgive an equivalent amount of consumer debt?

I know it wouldn't erase all consumer debt, and regulations would have to be put into place to ensure some kind of fairness in the distribution of the debt forgiveness and make it harder for Americans to rack up that kind of debt again... but seriously, if we bailed these guys out, and now they owe a bunch of money in fines... why shouldn't we see it repaid in terms relevant and helpful to us?
posted by Rykey at 3:25 PM on September 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"No, no. History does not show they are unable to obstruct, they can filibuster just as easily as Republicans can if they want to."

Filibuster in the United States Senate #Recent History.

"Maybe I'm wrong on this and you are right and the President actually holds a significant upper hand in this situations, it's just that I read so much about what a slog it is for our current President to pass anything so I assumed it was difficult."

You've complained before that I acted like I needed to explain the basics of the US government and that everyone knew them and they could be taken for granted. But when you write things like this, it seems like you slept through high school civics.

The two (primary) powers of the president are the ability to set agendas as the nominal leader of their party and to decide how legislation is enforced. Obama does not have the unilateral power to get his goals passed by congress; Romney wouldn't either. However, Obama's agenda is always going to be practically tautologically more amenable to arguments from the left and liberals, and thus progressive goals are going to be easier to get passed, because they wouldn't even be on the agenda under a Republican president.

But getting something on the agenda is different from making it law. Obama has had difficulty making things on his agenda into law, even though that's often over-rated in the discussions of him here. This congress is a historically obstructionist one. However, rather than making the assumption of equivalency, either in situation (that Romney's congress would necessarily be Democrat) or in structure. Democrats have only a weak majority in the most obstructionist (and thereby conservative) chamber, and the Democrats are not nearly as ideologically consistent as Republicans. Democrats really are a collection of many little blocs, and that has real consequences for how the government runs (Republicans have blocs too, but their core beliefs are much more consistent as a party).

So the truth can be both that Obama has a lot of trouble achieving the reach of his goals, including some goals entirely, but that Romney would be much more able to pass far right policy, and that is especially true for the use of executive agencies (think of all the mineral scandals under Bush, etc.) and the appointment of judges. Which is why it's kind of annoying to have you get all sarcastic about this, because really, if you know how the US government functions, this stuff is all pretty apparent.
posted by klangklangston at 4:34 PM on September 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


It seems to me the problem right now is that employers won't hire due to low demand, which causes high unemployment, which causes low demand. It's a chicken-and-egg problem, but it's fixable, maybe even for free.

The government should offer to sign a binding employment contract with any business that wishes to do so. The business promises it will increase its number of employees by X%. In exchange, the government promises the employer that if national employment is still above Y% at the end of 3 months, it will refund the new employees' entire salary, plus pay any unemployment that may arise if the employer has to conduct layoffs.

This would be repeated many times, over several years. If done right, the government would rarely or never pay out because the refund provision would never apply.
posted by miyabo at 4:45 PM on September 10, 2011


Rykey: I know it wouldn't erase all consumer debt, and regulations would have to be put into place to ensure some kind of fairness in the distribution of the debt forgiveness and make it harder for Americans to rack up that kind of debt again... but seriously, if we bailed these guys out, and now they owe a bunch of money in fines... why shouldn't we see it repaid in terms relevant and helpful to us?

Wow, Rykey! Best idea I've heard in 3 years!!
posted by Vibrissae at 5:04 PM on September 10, 2011


"No, no. History does not show they are unable to obstruct, they can filibuster just as easily as Republicans can if they want to."

Filibuster in the United States Senate #Recent History.


You seem to be confusing can and will here.

So the truth can be both that Obama has a lot of trouble achieving the reach of his goals, including some goals entirely, but that Romney would be much more able to pass far right policy

I don't get why we are still arguing here, I already summed this part up:

So you are saying...that they are going to go along with what Romney wants to accomplish?

See that makes me more scared of Democrats than Romney. You are telling me I have to vote for Obama because otherwise his own party is going to let scary things happen.

I just don't see it. Most of the stuff Bush did that I found scary didn't just happen because Democrats didn't obstruct, it happened with their approval. Things like the Patriot Act and the Iraq war come to mind.

As I've said, anything that gets done will be done in a bipartisan centrist matter, there will be no far-right or far-left, the bipartisan scary stuff is just as likely to happen with either party in the Presidency. I was just as scared by Libya as I was by Iraq.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:31 PM on September 10, 2011


The problem lies neither with the economy or the debt or even jobs. The problem is that America is dead. That's right dead. It started dying around 2000 and what we are living through are the last gasps of life much as people lived through the last gasps of the U.S.S.R. in the early 80's. We're the walking dead thus far but make no mistake , America is a zombie. What we're experiencing is the efforts of a small number of oligarchs to extract every possible piece of wealth from the people and the land before the inevitable end. When it finally collapses, just like the U.S.S.R did we'll end up with a third rate country, or countries, openly ruled by lawless oligarchs and immoral businessmen like the Russian Federation is now ruled. My grandparents never left Germany in the 40's because they couldn't believe it would become what it did. Same probably holds true for a lot of Russians in the 70's and 80's. We've long past the point where this is fixable.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:36 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeesh. That's cynical.

Luckily, America's still got it's people to keep its spirit alive.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:53 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


When it finally collapses, just like the U.S.S.R did we'll end up with a third rate country

I don't think it's that bad, really. It seems to me the US is losing it's hegemonic position, but there's no reason it can't wind up like Great Britain instead of the former Soviet Union. That is to say still a pretty great place to live, for most, with plenty of wealth and a decent standard of living, for most. That's really the best you could say of America at any time to be honest. You don't have to be the top dog to be a First World country and a genuinely good place to live. It's going to eventually require pretty big changes and sacrifices, and there will be growing pains, but it doesn't have to be a catastrophe.
posted by Hoopo at 7:21 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's going to eventually require pretty big changes and sacrifices

One of those is going to be relatively large cuts to the military budget, which I think will encounter severe resistance.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:42 PM on September 10, 2011


This thread has malaise written all over it. Sell.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 7:49 PM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"You seem to be confusing can and will here."

Don't be fatuous, George. You seem to be confusing posturing with a point.

"I don't get why we are still arguing here, I already summed this part up:

So you are saying...that they are going to go along with what Romney wants to accomplish?
"

Some of them will, to some extent. Moreso than the Republicans will with Obama. But that implies that there's no difference in what Romney and the Democrats hope to accomplish, which is silly.

"See that makes me more scared of Democrats than Romney."

Really? Because that's kind of dumb. You're more scared of the people that may try ineffectually to stop something you disagree with than the people trying to make it happen? Sorry, that's totally irrational.

You are telling me I have to vote for Obama because otherwise his own party is going to let scary things happen.

Because they don't have a majority, yeah. Framing it as "going to let scary things happen" is passive-voice bullshit. Worse things will happen if you vote for Romney or Republicans for congress. I'm really not understanding how you're not getting this.

I just don't see it. Most of the stuff Bush did that I found scary didn't just happen because Democrats didn't obstruct, it happened with their approval. Things like the Patriot Act and the Iraq war come to mind."

The Patriot Act and the Iraq War were both things passed when the Republicans had a majority and the Democrats didn't have the practical ability to stop them. But arguing that they were broadly approved by the Democrats is a stretch, especially when the Republicans are an example of a party that really approved them.

"As I've said, anything that gets done will be done in a bipartisan centrist matter, there will be no far-right or far-left, the bipartisan scary stuff is just as likely to happen with either party in the Presidency. I was just as scared by Libya as I was by Iraq."

Well, then, you were wrong about Libya and being as scared by it as Iraq was a foolish position to take and an irrational one. And no, whatever gets done will be a bipartisan centrist matter if a Democrat gets elected, and will be a moderate right (with blips of far right) if any Republican gets elected.

And in all of this, you're embracing this weird nihilist position where because the Democrats aren't perfect, the Republicans aren't worse. I mean, you can admit that Bush was a worse president than Gore would have been, right? Or are you really just so far off into cloudcuckooland that you're not even willing to concede that?
posted by klangklangston at 8:06 PM on September 10, 2011


Don't be fatuous, George. You seem to be confusing posturing with a point.

No, one of my main points is I'm not a fan of Democrats. When you pretend can't is the same as will you are passing the blame for their actions on to the system. The problem is the party, no way around it.

Some of them will, to some extent. Moreso than the Republicans will with Obama. But that implies that there's no difference in what Romney and the Democrats hope to accomplish, which is silly.

I have quite clearly stated they aren't twins, what I'm telling you is that despite being not identical the difference is not enough for me to be scared by Romney.

Really? Because that's kind of dumb. You're more scared of the people that may try ineffectually to stop something you disagree with than the people trying to make it happen? Sorry, that's totally irrational.

No, what I'm scared of is your suggestion that they will not use their power to stop far right policies so I should be scared of Romney. I think they will use their power to stop far right policies, remember?

Because they don't have a majority, yeah. Framing it as "going to let scary things happen" is passive-voice bullshit. Worse things will happen if you vote for Romney or Republicans for congress. I'm really not understanding how you're not getting this.

So they aren't gonna let it happen, that's just stupid bullshit, but if Romney is elected they are going to let it happen. Got it.

The Patriot Act and the Iraq War were both things passed when the Republicans had a majority and the Democrats didn't have the practical ability to stop them. But arguing that they were broadly approved by the Democrats is a stretch, especially when the Republicans are an example of a party that really approved them.

The majority of Democrats in the Senate approved the Iraq resolution. The Patriot Act earned ONE...I repeat...ONE nay vote from a Democrat in the Senate. In what twisted reality is it a stretch to say that is not broad approval? You are getting a bit absurd here.

Well, then, you were wrong about Libya and being as scared by it as Iraq was a foolish position to take and an irrational one. And no, whatever gets done will be a bipartisan centrist matter if a Democrat gets elected, and will be a moderate right (with blips of far right) if any Republican gets elected.

No, I feel I am quite correct to be scared of any involvement in foreign wars. When I discussed my fears before the conflict I was quite honest that I felt it would still likely work out, but the gamble isn't worth the risk of potential escalation into another quagmire when we are already involved in two of them.

I mean, you can admit that Bush was a worse president than Gore would have been, right? Or are you really just so far off into cloudcuckooland that you're not even willing to concede that?

Given that what I consider some of the worst Bush policies were approved by Democrats so enthusiastically it's very tough for me to feel anything would have changed all that significantly for my opinion.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:01 PM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


can't is the same as won't*
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:01 PM on September 10, 2011


"Given that what I consider some of the worst Bush policies were approved by Democrats so enthusiastically it's very tough for me to feel anything would have changed all that significantly for my opinion."

So, you think that Gore would have invaded Iraq because congressional Dems voted for the Patriot Act?

Between this and your totally disingenuous recollection of your position on Libya, I don't think your points are worth even trying to correct. You're simply going to dissemble about it, substitute glib rhetorical questions for argument, and keep on believing that somehow Romney will be a better president because you're right.
posted by klangklangston at 10:54 PM on September 10, 2011


So, you think that Gore would have invaded Iraq because congressional Dems voted for the Patriot Act?

No, you might have noticed I referenced an Iraq War vote. I'm not sure how you missed it?

Between this and your totally disingenuous recollection of your position on Libya

My position on Libya was based on the potential for backlash and the better uses for military spending we could find to help people in greater ways.

Here is a direct quote:

I don't value saving the lives of people in Libya more than saving the lives of people dying from malaria. If I have to choose between them as humanitarian missions I'll go with the route that gets more bang for the buck and has less chance of backfiring into an overall increase in human misery.

Seems pretty in line with what I just said. Please retract or back up your claim, thanks.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:09 PM on September 10, 2011


And please also cite where I said Romney would be a better president, or also retract that, thanks.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:10 PM on September 10, 2011


Another quote on Libya:

Then:

There are a wide variety of significant differences as well, but I feel like he overstated it to make a point that there should not be real concern for the possibility of an Iraq like destabilization after the fall of Gaddafi. I don't see it as that likely either, but it's irresponsible to ignore it for the sake of making the case.

Now:

When I discussed my fears before the conflict I was quite honest that I felt it would still likely work out

So...what's your issue here?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:19 PM on September 10, 2011


Would Obama’s payroll tax cut hurt Social Security?
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on September 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm wrong on this and you are right and the President actually holds a significant upper hand in this situations, it's just that I read so much about what a slog it is for our current President to pass anything so I assumed it was difficult.

The point that's been made is that its really hard to get everything on the Chomskyist left's wish list.

What I don't understand is how it is preferable to have a Republican we have to stop via the filibuster, rather than a Democrat who is actively moving a better agenda forward.

Finally when the electorate is 42% self-ID'd conservative and only 20% liberal, the idea that "liberal pressure" will cause Romney to moderate is laughable.

These are the 2010 Gallup numbers:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/141032/2010-conservatives-outnumber-moderates-liberals.aspx
posted by Ironmouth at 6:31 PM on September 11, 2011


And please also cite where I said Romney would be a better president, or also retract that, thanks.

Then there is no reason to vote for him.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:39 PM on September 11, 2011


The point that's been made is that its really hard to get everything on the Chomskyist left's wish list.

Chomsky? Did you mean to post that in some other thread?

What I don't understand is how it is preferable to have a Republican we have to stop via the filibuster,
Then there is no reason to vote for him.

Did I say I was going to?

actively moving a better agenda forward.

As someone with some more right wing positions it's kind of a wash, I guess if you are more of a liberal purist that might be the case.

Finally when the electorate is 42% self-ID'd conservative and only 20% liberal, the idea that "liberal pressure" will cause Romney to moderate is laughable.

Sure but on the extremes your far left liberals and your tea party types mostly balance out. As I've been saying all thread, the center is where things get done but both sides can put on some serious pressure.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:45 PM on September 11, 2011


As I've been saying all thread, the center is where things get done but both sides can put on some serious pressure.

20-42? No. One side can put on a lot more pressure than the other. Its simple math.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:09 PM on September 11, 2011


Your far left and tea party types are in the twenty range. The center contains lots of people who identify as conservative. When you put that 42 against the liberal twenty you are essentially just counting Republicans as a whole v. only the far left. That isn't an accurate representation of the situation.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:20 PM on September 11, 2011


So....what does "center" mean in the USA?
posted by Hoopo at 9:17 PM on September 11, 2011


So....what does "center" mean in the USA?

It translates to "hard-right" using the Overton windows of the other developed nations.

Over the years, I've seen several different countries have national freak-outs and shame when a wingnut political party running on a platform of hate manages to get more than one-digit support in polls, yet the extremism of those parties was in each case more moderate than today's GOP. But here in the USA, the GOP is actually still considered a legitimate and mainstream party, not a shameful outlier that only kooks vote for.

It's like people haven't noticed that the GOP has changed, that Reagan was over there, to the left of policies that today's GOP describe as liberal extremism.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:54 PM on September 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


same liberal lies.

What applies to a broken window equally applies to job creation.

The Broken Window Fallacy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMbhs9JG4fE
posted by raymorphic at 11:19 PM on September 11, 2011


It's fairy tale time for Austrian kindergarten
posted by Hoopo at 11:43 PM on September 11, 2011


The amusing thing about people complaining about the debt burden is that interest rates are right now negative so the cheapest way to pay some down is to borrow more.
posted by Francis at 4:03 AM on September 12, 2011


same liberal lies.

What applies to a broken window equally applies to job creation.

The Broken Window Fallacy


You know, broken windows and job creation are not the same thing, no more than giraffes and rocks.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:04 AM on September 12, 2011


Right, right, the old Giraffes Are Not Rocks Fallacy.
posted by cortex at 9:06 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your far left and tea party types are in the twenty range. The center contains lots of people who identify as conservative. When you put that 42 against the liberal twenty you are essentially just counting Republicans as a whole v. only the far left. That isn't an accurate representation of the situation.

You have no data to support that assertion. In fact, the listing shows that there is a "moderate" section. So, no, I'm not pitting anything. I'm just putting the numbers up there. Its simple math. You are trying to slice the numbers in ways that are not supported by the data.

More importantly,your position regarding Romney caving to "liberal pressure" relies on the fallacy that the critical group of voters that Romney must keep happy for a re-elect are liberals. Since nearly none of them will vote for him, he won't give a crap. 4% of Republicans in 2008 identified as liberal.

Romney could care less what liberals want because they will never vote for him. So the "liberal pressure" you describe is non-existent, both from a numbers standpoint and from the standpoint of who Romney will have to placate.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:13 AM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right, right, the old Giraffes Are Not Rocks Fallacy.

LOL

my point being that explaining the extremely complex process of job creation takes a bit more than comparing it to a broken window.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:14 AM on September 12, 2011


The amusing thing about people complaining about the debt burden is that interest rates are right now negative so the cheapest way to pay some down is to borrow more.

Finding opportunity in an economic crisis
posted by homunculus at 9:15 AM on September 12, 2011


my point being that explaining the extremely complex process of job creation takes a bit more than comparing it to a broken window.

It's not even fair to compare a broken window to something simpler than "job creation" like public works and infrastructure spending as the video does. Public works projects often address needs related to wear and tear, not malicious property damage. It's totally loaded the way the video simplifies things down to "by this logic, breaking windows is good!" It would be better to compare public works and infrastructure stimulus to the baker getting a new oven to replace the one with a broken burner that he's been using, which lets him increase the amount of bread he can bake. The opportunity cost of taxpayers not being able to get a can of soda sort of pales in comparison to the "hidden" opportunity costs related having to replace their tires due to potholes, burn more gas because of gridlock, or pay for property damage related to water main breaks and sewer back ups due to old and deteriorating infrastructure.
posted by Hoopo at 9:40 AM on September 12, 2011


You have no data to support that assertion. In fact, the listing shows that there is a "moderate" section. So, no, I'm not pitting anything. I'm just putting the numbers up there. Its simple math. You are trying to slice the numbers in ways that are not supported by the data.

You posting self-identified label numbers and pretending they are gospel, you know better.

You have no data to support that assertion.

Sure I do, we just elected a center-left president. That doesn't happen when the data is as lopsided as the self-identified numbers illustrate. How else do we get Obama or 60% support for the public option?

Romney could care less what liberals want because they will never vote for him. So the "liberal pressure" you describe is non-existent, both from a numbers standpoint and from the standpoint of who Romney will have to placate.

Only if we view the only liberals as those who self-identify rather than the whole who support left leaning policy.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:13 PM on September 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


You posting self-identified label numbers and pretending they are gospel, you know better.

I'm not the one claiming that there is some sort of "liberal pressure" group that is going to make Romney vote our way. I presented two links, one showing 20% liberals, 42% conservative, 35% moderate. I presented a second link showing only 4% of republicans identify as liberal.

Just looking for any data showing that Romney is going to care at all what liberals think. I presented data demonstrating that very few liberals are Republicans and that there are more than twice as many conservatives as liberals and three times as many moderates and conservatives than liberals. I'm just looking for some data showing that Romney is going to care what liberals think. I think the numbers say a lot there.

Its pure fantasy that Romney is going to be some sort of "same as Obama" type or that the damage he can do would be "limited" due to the filibuster. The damage Romney does is by not doing anything to fix problems. No filibuster needed.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:15 PM on September 12, 2011


forgot to ask what type of Ideological ID data we have that isn't self-identified. We lack the ability to read minds, so pointing out the fact that I used self-ID data means nothing.

Any other definition relies on some sort of ninja deciding what "left-leaning" policy is and then doing some sort of meta poll of polls. Relying on a researcher to draw that line destroys the very objectivity of any poll.

This has been my point from day one. There aren't that many of us.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:18 PM on September 12, 2011


As I said, we can look at how people actually vote and what policies they say they support. For example, they will vote for a center-left president who campaigns on liberal programs like a healthcare public option which polls show around 60% of the population supports.

The problem with the self identified labels, you know this I don't know why you are playing dumb here, is that the definitions of conservative and liberal are never quite clear and tend to vary from person to person. Many people will tell you they are fiscally conservative, for example, but that can mean anything from raising taxes to balance the budget to cutting social funding to do it.

When we look at data that says people are quite comfortable with raising taxes on the rich we can get a hint of what one kind person who might call themselves a 'fiscal conservative' supports, and that is continued social spending as long as it is paid for. That is the type of mainstream person well equipped and well positioned to pressure Romney despite not being a follower of the tea party style conservatism you apparently believe represents the entire 42%.

The moderate Democrats and Republicans control what can actually get passed, the Joe Lieberman type folks. That is someone I am sure has called himself a liberal at times, so is that our 20%? Well sure, if we are blinding ourselves to everything but self-id polls to make a point.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:27 PM on September 12, 2011


The moderate Democrats and Republicans control what can actually get passed, the Joe Lieberman type folks. That is someone I am sure has called himself a liberal at times, so is that our 20%? Well sure, if we are blinding ourselves to everything but self-id polls to make a point.

This group is not going to provide "liberal pressure" on Romney. This is my point.

As for your complaints about self-ID, I think self-ID is the best way to get data on this. No one has invented a better way. If you think there is a better way that provides us actual data, then provide the data. But just complaining that my data is bad, without providing any data of your own isn't advancing your argument.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:01 PM on September 12, 2011


This group is not going to provide "liberal pressure" on Romney. This is my point.

Sure they are, that's just how it works in the Senate. Romney isn't a dictator and he doesn't get Lierberman any easier than Obama does. The moderate positions represent most of the country, just because Lieberman doesn't pull as hard to the left as a purist might want doesn't mean it isn't a contribution.

However, I specifically brought Lieberman in to point out how silly it is that you are pretending self-id is the end all of this. Liberal Lieberman is different than Liberal Feingold just like conservative Olympia Snowe isn't the same as conservative Pat Toomey.

Unless you think Obama or the public option are conservative, I have given you two great examples of much greater than 20% support for liberalism. I'm not saying your data is bad, I am saying it is incomplete and at this point you seem to be the only one lacking any kind of rebuttal aside from opinion on that.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:16 PM on September 12, 2011


“Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?”
posted by homunculus at 5:31 PM on September 12, 2011


To Pass Jobs Act, Obama Should Channel LBJ
posted by homunculus at 5:33 PM on September 12, 2011


I still think that the best thing we could do is enact a mandatory 10% minimum (or higher) tax on any company that outsources outside the US.

It'd raise income, re-create jobs and keep more cash within our borders.
posted by geckoinpdx at 6:34 PM on September 12, 2011


Larry Summers wouldn't like that.
posted by homunculus at 6:48 PM on September 12, 2011


a mandatory 10% minimum (or higher) tax on any company that outsources outside the US.

There's no point - another country would immediately appeal to the WTO and win, because that's exactly the kind of thing the WTO exists for in order to prevent happening.

So if it happened, it would be as a cynical ploy to pander to voters while knowing full well that the promise was a lie, but that the WTO is going to come off as the bad guy.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:22 PM on September 12, 2011


The big disconnect: Americans pessimistic of Obama on economy, but support his actual policies
posted by homunculus at 10:24 AM on September 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The unique importance of the 2012 election
posted by homunculus at 10:27 AM on September 13, 2011


Let's support this damn jobs act, people!

Politics aside, it really would help the jobs picture--even Krugman's said so, and he's frequently very critical of the administration--and it takes away some of the Bush tax breaks to the wealthiest and to big corporate interests.

This is what the Republicans are calling "permanent tax increases": the elimination of special tax subsidies to the wealthiest and to corporations.

It's unreal their message is being parroted unchallenged on all the major news networks. It should be clear to anyone that restoring the tax code to remove unfair tax breaks that benefit only the wealthiest at a time of shrinking job markets and 22% poverty rates among American children (not to mention rates nearly as bad among the population generally).

Obama's so far been doing a good job of repeating the basic message, issuing repeated statements to the public that congress has no excuse for not passing his jobs act now. He just needs to keep hammering on this, and we all need to support the effort and demand that congress do what he asks now.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:26 AM on September 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the supercommittee doesn’t do jobs, jobs won’t get done
posted by homunculus at 11:20 AM on September 14, 2011


Obama's bad jobs trade: Medicare cuts to pay for a stimulus plan that voters don't think will work? No wonder his poll numbers are dropping
posted by homunculus at 11:24 AM on September 14, 2011


Well, I'm not sure I see anything about medicare cuts in the bill. I do, however, see a bunch of high-end tax deductions being killed and taxes on hedge fund managers being increased.

You can read the full text of the jobs proposal yourself over here. If you see the part that commits us to any medicare or SS cuts, you show it to me, please. (Seriously. No snark intended. Show me.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:41 PM on September 14, 2011


And of course, the congressional Dems are disorganized, parochial and undisciplined.
posted by klangklangston at 5:28 PM on September 14, 2011


As for the good news, I found myself a nickel.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:19 AM on September 15, 2011


Exciting new talking point: Jobs bill is "blue state bailout." Conservatives come up with a brand-new negative frame for the ancient policy of direct aid to states
posted by homunculus at 1:32 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Today I Opened My Last Unemployment Check
posted by homunculus at 1:48 PM on September 17, 2011


You can read the full text of the jobs proposal yourself over here. If you see the part that commits us to any medicare or SS cuts, you show it to me, please. (Seriously. No snark intended. Show me.)

Basically, he is justifying the spending on the jobs bill with cuts elsewhere in a plan he is set to release on the 19th. There isn't much detail out there, but you know how this goes.

Obama hints at healthcare cuts to pay for deficit and jobs bills.

The bipartisan deficit 'super committee' is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in savings over 10 years. Can it find $450 billion more to fund Obama's jobs plan? Can it find $4 trillion? More?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:33 PM on September 17, 2011


Obama Signs Patent ‘Reform’ Bill — ‘Crustless Sandwich’ Still Patented
posted by homunculus at 1:48 PM on September 18, 2011


Paul Krugman is tired of trying to reason with you people
posted by homunculus at 6:45 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doom! Our economic nightmare is just beginning.
posted by homunculus at 8:09 PM on September 20, 2011


Paul Krugman is tired of trying to reason with you people

Maybe the Age of Reason is over and a financial messiah needs to rise up and explain that that loaf and fish thingie needs a new model?
posted by infini at 12:20 AM on September 21, 2011


GOP Leaders Write Unprecedented Letter Urging The Federal Reserve To Keep Unemployment High
posted by homunculus at 11:54 AM on September 21, 2011


Economists: Obama’s Jobs Plan Would Help Prevent A Double-Dip Recession
posted by homunculus at 10:03 AM on September 28, 2011


The jobs bill is dead
posted by homunculus at 4:29 PM on October 4, 2011


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