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An Economic Stimulus Without the Stimulus?
February 7, 2009 6:24 PM   Subscribe

A list of cut, halved, and quartered items from the Senate version of the stimulus bill was released to CNN.

Fully cut was any stimulus funding for historic preservation, Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters, Farm Service Agency modernization, Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, watershed rehabilitation, distance learning, school nutrition, aquaculture, broadband, National Institute of Standards and Technology, detention trustee, Marshalls Construction, federal prisons, BYRNE Formula grant program, BYRNE Competitive grant program, state and local law enforcement, NASA, aeronautics, exploration, Cross Agency Support, National Science Foundation, science, Energy Loan Guarantees, General Services Administration, General Services Administration operations, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, Coast Guard Cutters, modifies use, Fish and Wildlife, historic preservation, working capital fund, Forest Service capital improvement, State and Private Wildlife Fire Management, Head Start/Early Start, Health Prevention Activity, Health Information Technology Grants, Title I (No Child Left Behind), school construction, higher education construction, project based rental, Neighborhood Stabilization, retrofitting Project 8 housing, or state fiscal stabilization.

Stimulus funding was halved for energy-efficient federal buildings, the Smithsonian, law enforcement wireless, and hybrid federal vehicles -- and reduced by 75% for the EPA, NOAA, and FBI construction.
posted by WCityMike (162 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nourishing schoolchildren? Sounds like socialism to me.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:30 PM on February 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I am stunned that the National Endowment for the Arts money was not cut. (IIRC, there was $50 mil or so in the House bill.)
posted by LooseFilter at 6:31 PM on February 7, 2009


All cuts chosen more or less at random so that a few senators can derive whatever psychological benefits come from being able to call themselves "bipartisan."

Paul Krugman: "My first cut says that the changes to the Senate bill will ensure that we have at least 600,000 fewer Americans employed over the next two years. The real question now is whether Obama will be able to come back for more once it’s clear that the plan is way inadequate. My guess is no. This is really, really bad."
posted by ibmcginty at 6:32 PM on February 7, 2009


Goddamn Republicans.
posted by Flunkie at 6:38 PM on February 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


solution: put major tax on all corp executives earning over one million in bonuses.
posted by Postroad at 6:38 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn I was about to post the Krugman link. I guess I'll just have to link to Claire McCaskill's Tweet About how "Proud" she is to throw 600k people out on the street in order to satiate Ben Nelson's ego.
Proud we cut over 100 billion out of recov bill.Many Ds don't like it, but needed to be done.The silly stuff Rs keep talking about is OUT.
Yeah, 600,000 jobs worth of "Silly Stuff" like aide to states that will have to now lay people off.
posted by delmoi at 6:40 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Brian Butler posting on Matt Yglesias' blog:
But now it seems the stimulus won’t pass unless it’s first cut by $100 billion. That number is, of course, totally arbitrary–arrived at, once again without the input of any of Brooks’ so-called moderate economists. The opening bid, then, was crafted by Larry Summers, et al. The counter bid was designed by cranks from the Heritage Foundation. In between is a version of the Summers bid after a bunch of amateurs hacked at it blindly with a machete. These would appear to be the three options. To a group of 535 sane people, the choice would be obvious, but, as John Cole notes, one of the parties (200 or so members of Congress) are not sane, so the obvious choice is out of the running.
posted by delmoi at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]



solution: put major tax on all corp executives earning over one million in bonuses.
Yeah, right. Republicans would threaten to unanimously filibuster (and Democrats wouldn't force them to actually do so) unless all funding for science classes in public schools was removed, and the proposed tax was actually a tax rebate.
posted by Flunkie at 6:42 PM on February 7, 2009


I'm confused, do we actually need the republicans in order to pass this bill, or are we just capitulating to their bullshit?
posted by serazin at 6:43 PM on February 7, 2009


*whew* I'm glad we cut that "science" out. The last thing we need is to think about the future or the world around us.
posted by DU at 6:43 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


If only Bush/Cheney had been more successful in increasing the power of the President, then we could finally have a democracy in this country.
posted by TwelveTwo at 6:44 PM on February 7, 2009


serazin: "I'm confused, do we actually need the republicans in order to pass this bill, or are we just capitulating to their bullshit?"

We have "blue dog" Democrats breaking rank with the Democratic Party, meaning that despite Reid supposedly converting a few Republicans over to the Democratic side of the debate, there aren't enough to override a filibuster, from what I understand.
posted by WCityMike at 6:46 PM on February 7, 2009


Seriously, why in fucking hell do Democrats insist on this kumbaya, everyone on board bullshit? IT DOESN'T WORK AND IT HURTS PEOPLE IN THE END. Listening to Republicans run around and whine on all the news outlets last week about how the mean new president wasn't being bipartisan because he wouldn't give in when they threatened to hold their breaths until their faces turned blue made me sick. And now they've given in, and when shit goes down it's going to be on the back of the Democrats. It's petty partisan bullshit and the only way to win is to quit playing the fucking game. Change, indeed.
posted by sugarfish at 6:47 PM on February 7, 2009 [16 favorites]


If only Bush/Cheney had been more successful in increasing the power of the President, then we could finally have a democracy in this country.

They were successful, it's just that Obama hasn't chosen to use it. He could probably ram his bill through senate if he was willing to be, *ghasp*, partisan. In particular, the stimulus bill could be offered as an ordinary budget package, which can't be filibustered.
posted by delmoi at 6:48 PM on February 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm confused, do we actually need the republicans in order to pass this bill, or are we just capitulating to their bullshit?
Sixty percent of the Senate is required to overcome a filibuster. The Democrats have 57% of the Senate, or 59% if you count the two independents who caucus with them.

The Republicans have threatened to filibuster an amazing amount of things ever since the Democrats took the majority back in 2006. The last Congress demolished the previous record number of obstructed Senate bills, by a huge margin. The Republicans just say "we'll filibuster", and the Democrats say, "oh, well, then, never mind".

What the Democrats need to do is to tell the fucking Republicans once and for all, fine, you want to filibuster this? Filibuster it, and watch the public relations nightmare slowly unfold before your eyes as the public sees this drag out day after day, and finally comes to realize exactly who in Congress is standing against exactly what.
posted by Flunkie at 6:49 PM on February 7, 2009 [43 favorites]


God. damn. Harry. Reid.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:50 PM on February 7, 2009 [10 favorites]


Krugman: Somehow, Washington has lost any sense of what’s at stake — of the reality that we may well be falling into an economic abyss, and that if we do, it will be very hard to get out again.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:51 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I'm confused, do we actually need the republicans in order to pass this bill, or are we just capitulating to their bullshit?"

Ted Kennedy is in the hospital, and Al Franken's can't get seated because Norm Colman won't drop his hopeless lawsuit. Because of that, a bill needs 3 republican votes to break a filibuster, whereas we would only need one if those two could vote. Oh, and the guy Obama nominated for Commerce secretary decided to stab him in the back by 'recusing' himself from any votes on the stimulus, which you can't actually do on a cloture vote. Not voting is the same as a "no" vote.
posted by delmoi at 6:51 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Good thing they got rid of all that pork.

I mean why would we want to fund the NSF? To get more scientists frivolously conducting "experiments" to refute intelligent design?

Retrofitting P8 Housing? What? We want more employed fat-cat contractors and dark-skinned types with hammers helping other darkies?

School construction? Why waste money on a public school system that's unfixable. One more nail in that coffin means one more step towards vouchers.

/sarcasm

One can go on and on... Clearly these cuts ain't about creating jobs, improving our infrastructure, or setting us up for a better future, as the asshats that need no naming would have us believe. It's about pushing the same old flawed agenda that got us into this mess in the first place. I get that all this spending might not help the national debt one bit, but jesus, neither are tax cuts and the particular choices they made here really speak volumes.
posted by drpynchon at 6:53 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


WTF, America. The right has been openly strategizing on how they want people miserable so they can clean up in the mid term elections. They want Americans in pain, Americans suffering, blaming Democrats and Obama. This is beneath treason. This is the trench under treason's porta-potty. Why people aren't rioting and lynching Republicans I do not understand.
posted by fleetmouse at 6:54 PM on February 7, 2009 [15 favorites]


We are so screwed.
posted by diogenes at 7:02 PM on February 7, 2009


Please, please make them filibuster. There's got to be a spine around there somewhere.
posted by Tenuki at 7:08 PM on February 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


The Republicans have threatened to filibuster an amazing amount of things ever since the Democrats took the majority back in 2006. The last Congress demolished the previous record number of obstructed Senate bills, by a huge margin. The Republicans just say "we'll filibuster", and the Democrats say, "oh, well, then, never mind".

And now ask why the Democrats didn't do that when they were in the minority. Because they didn't want to get pilloried on talk radio?
posted by smackfu at 7:12 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus christ. Is there such a thing as a democrat with a spine?
posted by maxwelton at 7:16 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


WTF, America. The right has been openly strategizing on how they want people miserable so they can clean up in the mid term elections. They want Americans in pain, Americans suffering, blaming Democrats and Obama. This is beneath treason. This is the trench under treason's porta-potty. Why people aren't rioting and lynching Republicans I do not understand.

The people who are responsible for this have systematically cultured a belief in half of America that says, essentially, "Your neighbor who does not agree with you politically or economically is the enemy, and these unpatriotic ideals exist in our opponents in Washington." Behind the scenes—or sometimes quite openly in the courtyard—they do whatever is necessary to set up the conditions for success at any cost to actual human beings or the nation as a whole. At this point, reality is washed away and all you're left with is a desire to see the other half fail.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:16 PM on February 7, 2009


Does anyone have the list of what IS getting funded still?
posted by jeanmari at 7:17 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd like to see what was being funded. I saw NSF funding being reduced from $1.4B to $1.2B, so a $200M cut. I'm also curious if they added funding for defense contractors.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:23 PM on February 7, 2009


Reid is worthless and weak. Apparently he reflects the party he leads.
posted by wrapper at 7:24 PM on February 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


They should definitely call the Republican's bluff and make them filibuster. The Republicans would look so bad on TV.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:28 PM on February 7, 2009


Here's a picture of the components of the stimulus plan.

Note how friggin huge the tax cuts circle is.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:31 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's a picture of the components of the stimulus plan.

The title of it is misleading.
posted by gman at 7:37 PM on February 7, 2009


Comparatively, what wasn't cut?
posted by Electrius at 7:41 PM on February 7, 2009


I was stunned when I found out Harry Reid used to be a boxer. This milquetoast has crumbled to these squawking, cynical republicans over and over again since 2006. The democrats need to switch him out with a quickness.

I'm crossing my fingers that voters are still paying enough attention to this situation to know which party is gumming up the works. I don't want to see Obama subjected to another Clinton takedown campaign.
posted by EatTheWeak at 7:46 PM on February 7, 2009


They should just give all the money to me, and I will spend it in ways that will stimulate the economy and fix the infrastructure - and do some of that goddam energy-use reduction already.

Roads? Bridges? Don't be crazy - we're going trains, all the way. Great North American tradition, trains, and the most energy and cost-efficient land travel that exists. We could have every city linked by wonderful highspeed trains, and have local networks hitting all the smaller towns. Also, we need research into highspeed ocean travel, so we don't have to fly so much. It would be like the Jetsons, only on the ground and the sea - and LESS ENERGY.

I'm just so pissed off that people are talking about yet more subsidies for the car-culture which is part of the nightmare that is North American fuel consumption. We need $5 gas - it hurts, but apparently pain is all that motivates us.

Oh, and I would certainly transfer lots of funds to the states - they need it to not lay off people they are employing right now, who are already trained and in place. It's just logical to give them the funds they need to keep going.
posted by jb at 7:46 PM on February 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


30B for highways? Argh.

I'm emmigrating to the 19th century, when people respected the value of track.
posted by jb at 7:48 PM on February 7, 2009


Preach it, jb!

This is incredibly frustrating. I'm part of a team of nonprofits trying to put together a "green economic recovery" proposal to present to the state gov't, and we're all crippled by having no idea what to expect in terms of potential federal stimulus money. We can't propose state investment levels without knowing that, so what I can say about the energy efficiency forecast changes daily. I just want to walk into Congress and say LOOK I HAVE BEEN READING EVERY FREAKING REPORT ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY INVESTMENT THAT HAS COME OUT IN THE LAST TWO YEARS AND I PROMISE YOU THIS WILL SAVE PEOPLE MONEY AND CREATE JOBS AND CUT EMISSIONS WHICH BY THE WAY WILL ALSO CUT HEALTH COSTS.
Come on, Democrats. Break out the all caps.
posted by hippugeek at 8:00 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


30B for highways? Argh.

I'm emmigrating to the 19th century, when people respected the value of track.


C'mon, the quaint aura of cobblestones is worth at least 30 Billion, not to mention the sound.
posted by clearly at 8:03 PM on February 7, 2009


I'm glad to see that nutrition, education and state fiscal stabilization got cut, I'm mean really what a bunch of useless crap that stuff is. What the hell are these people thinking? Ron Paul is complaining that the stimulus package is a "pure spending package", well *duh* Ron.
posted by MikeMc at 8:06 PM on February 7, 2009


Is there some term for people who think trains will solve all our problems? Maybe "trackheads" or something?
posted by smackfu at 8:14 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


change didn't last very long, did it?

this is what i was afraid of - that whatever obama might want to do, he would be hobbled by what is essentially the same old congress

that the republicans continue to play their obstructionist games is unfortunately all too predictable

that the democrats would continue to give in to them and not risk an all out fight is also predictable

and frankly, i don't know that the kind of "stimulus", or problem solving being suggested here is really going to do anything but send more of the taxpayer's money down a black, bottomless hole - i'm STILL not certain that those who say, "let everything fail and get it over with" aren't right

this isn't a test of a party or a president or a certain politician - it's the test of a system and the test of a government - if they can't hold it together and make it work, then i don't know what kind of change is going to happen

but it's going to get ugly and it's going to have some nasty consequences if they don't get this right
posted by pyramid termite at 8:15 PM on February 7, 2009


My understanding of what happens next: The bill can be filibustered, even though it's budgetary, because it increases the deficit. It won't be, because of this agreement. Then it goes to reconciliation (with the House bill). I have no idea how this works. Then the reconciled bill can't be filibustered when it comes back, I think.

Is it possible that these stripped items will go back in in reconciliation, and the reconciled bill will pass with ~55 votes in the Senate?
posted by topynate at 8:15 PM on February 7, 2009


jb: I agree 100%, but you can't build trains that fast, so it probably won't stimulate the economy (in the short term I mean).
posted by amuseDetachment at 8:25 PM on February 7, 2009


i'm with jb. stimulus spending in the US is basically designed to return the country to a state of comfortable brokenness.

it's time for something completely different.
posted by klanawa at 8:27 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hmmm. The Byrne grants, which brought us the Tulia, Texas scandal and civil rights violations, among many, many other problems, are on that list for $440M total. The actual total amount in the stimulus package is closer to $3 billion. I'm not sure what "eliminated" means in that category. There is still plenty of money being wasted in Byrne grants, which are primarily used to arrest low-level drug users, who then fill up our prison system.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:28 PM on February 7, 2009


I just want to walk into Congress and say LOOK I HAVE BEEN READING EVERY FREAKING REPORT ON ENERGY EFFICIENCY INVESTMENT THAT HAS COME OUT IN THE LAST TWO YEARS AND I PROMISE YOU THIS WILL SAVE PEOPLE MONEY AND CREATE JOBS AND CUT EMISSIONS WHICH BY THE WAY WILL ALSO CUT HEALTH COSTS.

In a sense, you CAN walk into Congress and do precisely that -- by which I mean, you can call your representative and urge THEM to do that. And enlist your friends to call their congressmen and urge THEM to do that too.

THIS is where the real change in American government needs to come in -- when more ordinary people start actually asking their elected representatives to REPRESENT THEM, by communicating with them about WHAT THEY WANT, rather than just electing them every two years and then sitting back and grumbling about what they wish their congressman would or wouldn't do. For a long time, granted, we didn't have enough faith in our government to trust that they'd listen to us (I mean, hell, look at how well the executive branch was running), but the thing I was most optomistic about on the night of Obama's election was not just his election, but that it might mean that more people would trust that using the government the way it was supposed to be used would actually acheive something.

And this is the way the government is supposed to work -- you elect a representative, but then you keep watching their asses and asking them to do precisely what you want to walk into Congress and do yourself.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:37 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there some term for people who think trains will solve all our problems? Maybe "trackheads" or something?

Heh. I kind of like it.

Trains won't solve everything, I grant you. But they can cut car emissions, reduce congestion and commuting times, let a family with two working parents have one car instead of two (which saves in the range of $5000-9000/year, amortized), and because stations are fixed, encourages denser development near transit centers, which in turn preserves open space and saves on infrastructure and all kinds of good things.

I don't think we'll eliminate private cars or anything--the US is spread out and still heavily rural, autos are culturally tied to independence, you can't take two toddlers and your groceries and some 2x4s on a train, etc. But making them less necessary in urban corridors could make life an awful lot better for all of us.

On preview: amuseDetachment--no, new train lines won't get built as quickly as highway repairs. But they can happen on comparable timelines with new road construction. There are specific projects in my state, for example, that are updates and expansions to existing rail service and infrastructure. Those things can be ready to go pretty fast. (And anyway, some of the stimulus effect comes from people employed to do the studies and prep work to even plan these projects. Those would be employed right away.)
posted by hippugeek at 8:39 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are Republican voters going to keep voting in Republicans?

Shit. There goes the last vanishing ideation of me seeking work in the USA (because there won't be any positions).

Maybe I'll teach highschool in hong kong with a PhD.
posted by porpoise at 8:41 PM on February 7, 2009


Heh. Don't worry, EmpressCallipygos--I'm doing just that myself, and really I work in outreach, so I'm encouraging a whole network to the same! Just a little frustration getting the better of me.
posted by hippugeek at 8:42 PM on February 7, 2009


Come on, Democrats. Break out the all caps machetes.

FTFY. In all seriousness, this looks like a list of what was likely to have to most long term benefit beyond being a big handout.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:44 PM on February 7, 2009


so everyone here wants us to spend more money? really?
posted by dawson at 8:44 PM on February 7, 2009


so everyone here wants us to spend more money? really?

Everyone here wants us to spend money in the right way on thing that need it, and get a little pissed when partisan shitwhistles do exactly the opposite for no reason other than "beating the other team".
posted by Mikey-San at 8:52 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


*things
posted by Mikey-San at 8:53 PM on February 7, 2009


Excerpt from Obama's rousing speech on the stimulus at House Democrats' Retreat in Williamsburg, VA. Fireworks start at 7 minutes-ish. Apparently unscripted.

Also: A 40-year Wish List
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:00 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


dawson, saying "much more could be cut from this bill" is saying "I want people to be out of work", so wear the boots.
posted by dhartung at 9:15 PM on February 7, 2009


And saying "tax cuts are better" ignores the fact that everyone's just going to shove it under their mattress when they get it, which won't create any economic stimulus, which is the point of the bill. The Velocity of Money is much higher if you force 100% of it to be spent at least the first time around.
posted by amuseDetachment at 9:25 PM on February 7, 2009


goodnewsfortheinsane: Nice clip. Whenever I think about how much better the crafting/debating/selling/voting of this stimulus plan could have been done, it helps to hear Obama speak about it. He's clearly extremely informed and knows the right path. It's comforting to hear him say it.
posted by jckll at 9:31 PM on February 7, 2009


And just for the record. I am 100% a believer in textbook, Keynsian macroeconomic policy. But people are going way overboard with the suggestions that anyone who disagrees with that fundamental worldview is simply wrong. It's being done all over the blue, but also by people whom I respect greatly, like Krugman.

There are lots, and lots, and lots, of competent, educated, smart people (economists) who simply don't believe that government spending stimulates the economy efficiently. And they deserve to be heard. This stuff isn't right vs. wrong. It's not a science, it's an art.
posted by jckll at 9:33 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm genuinely curious how people feel about the Coast Guard's icebreaker being cut.
posted by boo_radley at 9:43 PM on February 7, 2009


There's still ice left in the world thick enough to require a Coast Guard Cutter?? BA AHAH AHAHA HHA HAH. Ok, maybe there is...give it six months though.
posted by spicynuts at 9:56 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Icebreakers are a waste of money. Let global warming take care of it, silly.
posted by Hovercraft Eel at 10:01 PM on February 7, 2009


I was thinking about what's happening in this country, and it's kind of like an Anorexic or deathly ill person still trying to count calories and not eat to much. If you're hugely overweight a little "pork" might be a bad idea. But if you've lost a lot of weight due to being sick or something, refusing to eat could make you a lot worse.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 PM on February 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


It amazes me that the Republicans are more effective with 41 senators than Harry Reid and the Democrats are with 57-59 (depending on how you count). The Republican minority has accomplished more in two weeks than Reid et al did in several years. Several years in which they weren't even a minority.

Why are the Democrats completely unable to figure out the whole governing thing?
posted by Justinian at 10:10 PM on February 7, 2009


Supporters Of $1.3 Trillion Bush Tax Cuts In 2001 Now Call $900 Billion Recovery Plan Billion ‘Too Much’
posted by homunculus at 10:19 PM on February 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's not that they're more a effective. It's just that it's easier to create entropy.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:22 PM on February 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


[A few comments removed. Cut the assholery, pronto or take it elsewhere.]
posted by cortex at 10:33 PM on February 7, 2009


It is surprising that there isn't more skepticism on the stimulus here.

There are real questions about how well these things work. US government debt has been recklessly expanded by poor American government for years. It is going to catch up with you.

But don't some of you wonder that with a problem that has been created by credit growth whether the answer is to borrow even more massively to get out of it?

Did it work well for the Japanese in the 1990s?

Didn't they spend up on infrastructure?

Why will the US spend be different?
posted by sien at 10:33 PM on February 7, 2009


What delmoi said.

This list of cuts is unbelievably shortsighted. Just as in business where you do in fact have to spend money to make money, in government you need to spend money (wisely) to invest in the future. This list is sort of the antithesis of that.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:43 PM on February 7, 2009


I was thinking about what's happening in this country, and it's kind of like an Anorexic or deathly ill person still trying to count calories and not eat to much. If you're hugely overweight a little "pork" might be a bad idea. But if you've lost a lot of weight due to being sick or something, refusing to eat could make you a lot worse.

Poor analogy. We're like the perfect storm between your anorexic and your hugely overweight whale-man. A GDP shortfall of a couple percent in the medium term, and a national debt approaching 10% of that shrinking GDP.

I guess more like an anorexic who wants to gain weight but whose only credit card is maxed out.
posted by jckll at 11:23 PM on February 7, 2009


It amazes me that the Republicans are more effective with 41 senators than Harry Reid and the Democrats are with 57-59 (depending on how you count). The Republican minority has accomplished more in two weeks than Reid et al did in several years. Several years in which they weren't even a minority.

Why are the Democrats completely unable to figure out the whole governing thing?


Yeah, this is what I wonder. It's totally beyond me. I thought we won, but here we are taking dictation from these guys.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:49 PM on February 7, 2009


But don't some of you wonder that with a problem that has been created by credit growth whether the answer is to borrow even more massively to get out of it?

Did it work well for the Japanese in the 1990s?

Didn't they spend up on infrastructure?

Why will the US spend be different?


What is the alternative? If you don't even try to go for a stimulus package people will lose jobs, tax revenues will go down and it will be even harder to pay off the debt we already have.

I can't believe there isn't more direct aid to the states in this bill. They are being forced to cut back essential jobs in education, health care, and police work because of balanced budget requirements. Money from the federal government would definitely go to saving these jobs.
posted by afu at 12:18 AM on February 8, 2009


Looks like Obama just learned that old adage: You can lead a horse to water, but a Republican will hate the common person forever.

I can't wait to see the President's media blitz next week. Hopefully his speech will be like the one at the Democratic conference. He's still going to end up spending more money than any President in history, and this makes me very happy because it's Obama, and not some selfish, sophist, elitist biaaatch. Most of the money will make it's way to the underprivileged and middle class. Not a bad first month at all. 7/11 to go.
posted by Flex1970 at 12:26 AM on February 8, 2009


What is the alternative? If you don't even try to go for a stimulus package people will lose jobs, tax revenues will go down and it will be even harder to pay off the debt we already have.

The alternative is to let it happen. That's bad if the stimulus can stop it. But it's better than the stimulus if the stimulus isn't going to work since bad things happen either way and at least you're not out 900billion if you don't spend it.

I don't see how the proposed stimulus is worth the inflation and increased national debt. Almost $400billion in tax cuts? To benefit from a tax cut, you actually have to be employed. So the people who need help most don't benefit. Additionally, for the country as a whole to benefit, the money you save in taxes needs to be spent. It seems more likely to me that most employed people who get a tax cut are going to save it, which benefits them personally but doesn't help us get out of the depression we're sliding in to.

So that's over 40% of the stimulus right there I think is mostly wasted money. Some of the spending is almost certainly being wasted. Some of what's left won't be spent soon enough to matter. And what is going to be spent in the next year likely isn't enough to halt the downward spiral.

So the question is whether pissing away $900 billion in a futile effort doesn't just make things worse. I think it's probably just wasting money. If we're going to have a stimulus, it should have been like 0% tax cuts, 100% spending. Fully 50% of the spending should be on infrastructure. But that's nothing like what we're getting.

Here's what's going to happen: The Republicans are sabotaging the stimulus. They're demanding more and more tax cuts and less and less spending, to the point where the stimulus will almost certainly fail. And here's the thing... they're not going to vote for it anyway. So when it fails, and they've gutted it enough where it probably will fail, they'll blame it on the Democrats since the gutted stimulus will pass with virtually no Republican support.

Which is what I don't understand. I understand fucking with the stimulus if it gets you a bunch of Republican support and lets you share the blame if it fails. I don't like it, but I understand it. What I can't fathom is gutting the stimulus when you still won't get any significant Republican support so that you own it when it fails. The difference between 61 votes and 65 votes is nothing. Pass a real stimulus that might work with 61 votes, not this piece of shit with 65. The Democrats own the bill either way, why pass the one that won't work?
posted by Justinian at 12:33 AM on February 8, 2009 [12 favorites]


solution: put major tax on all corp executives earning over one million in bonuses.
posted by Postroad at 9:38 PM on February 7 [+] [!]


Indeed. The entire reason Wall Street types take most of their money in bonus is that salary over one million is no longer deductible to the corporation but performance compensation such as bonus still is.

This bill sucks eggs. If you want to stimulate the economy to avoid recession you have to spend all the money right now, not three or four years down the road like much of this bill, dem or rep version, does. Healthcare, direct aid to states, withholding tax holidays, real shovel ready infrastructure, etc. are all stimulative endeavors, but this bill is loaded to the gills with long term pork. Obama should have written it himself rather then let congress and lobbyists do it for him. Say what you will, but Bush would probably not have made that mistake.
posted by caddis at 12:36 AM on February 8, 2009


Oh, for people (like me) who think Bush's economic policy has been a disaster for the United States but still support this stimulus, riddle me this:

Bush's economic policy can be summed up as massive deficit spending combined with cutting marginal tax rates. This has been a disaster. The stimulus can be summed up as massive deficit spending combined with cutting marginal tax rates. But it will save the economy!

The stimulus-now-with-added-tax-cuts is just a continuation of the economic policies of the last 8 years except moreso. The BEST CASE SCENARIO is that we re-inflate a bubble with unsustainable government spending and crash later instead of now.
posted by Justinian at 12:37 AM on February 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of people, myself included, have some fairly serious concerns about how the stimulus/spending package is going to get paid for, and whether it's really better to be rushing through a "solution" (which may not actually, you know, work) now, versus doing things more thoughtfully—even if it costs more jobs and lengthens the recession in the short term—and trying to really plot a course towards long-term economic sustainability. Particularly a course that deals with the looming demographic issues that we're going to run into rather quickly, rather than brushing them off and hoping someone else will figure them out down the road.

I don't think the Republicans are really interested in that sort of considered action—they're pretty clearly just punishing Obama and the Democrats while the opportunity exists—but even if their motives are completely wrong I'm not sure their actions aren't right. The way the stimulus is being rammed through just plain sucks. It's the worst sort of knee-jerk, "just do something" politics, and I've never seen much good come out of those situations. Crisis lawmaking creates pretty crappy laws.

Not limited just to the current economic situation, I would rather see Congress, and government in general, taking slow, considered, deliberate action—even if that meant there are problems that they just had to admit they weren't agile enough to solve—than throwing expensive Hail Marys on the sheer hope they could fix something. And the latter is how the stimulus concept looks so far.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:42 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thursday's Daily Show presented a lineup of senators calling this or that program in the bill pork. Many of the things seems rather unporklike. Who decides which things are pork or not?

It makes me want to scream.
posted by JHarris at 1:07 AM on February 8, 2009


When we elected Obama, we got to pretend, for a day, that all the bullshit and the absolutely ridiculous policy decisions would cease, allowing us to go blissfully about our lives, the future safe in hand. It was a crazy fiction, of course, but it was such a relief from the previous 8 years that I welcomed it and played along.

Now that it is gone, all I'm left with is a sad ache to taste it again.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 1:54 AM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who decides which things are pork or not?

Pork is in the eye hand of the beholder wanker.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:18 AM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dear Democrats: Have some conviction for once you cowardly fucks!
posted by diogenes at 5:05 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about we think about what got us into this mess, really? Rich fat Americans who want cheap Walmart prices for all the crap we need- cheap crap made overseas by near-slave labor. What do we make/manufacture in this country? Our economy is based on credit, on the promise/buying and selling of "debt". But when there are no jobs, there are no masses to put their money in the kitty, you can have all the tax cuts and lowest-in-history interest rates, and it really doesn't mean squat. Those with the wealth want lower taxes. How does that help someone without a job? The rich elite want lower interest rates on mortgages, how does that help someone without a job? The crap that we buy from overseas is junk- not meant to last long, so when it breaks we have to buy it again. The average television set isn't worth repairing when it breaks, it's more cost effective to throw away and buy another. What's wrong with that picture. We need to stop participating in the selling of our markets overseas. We need to demand high quality and American made so our people have WORK. All the tax cuts and interest rate cuts and mortgage rate cuts in the world don't help if no one has a job where they can make money!
posted by GreyFoxVT at 5:14 AM on February 8, 2009


There are lots, and lots, and lots, of competent, educated, smart people (economists) who simply don't believe that government spending stimulates the economy efficiently.

I'd feel a lot better if most of those people didn't seem to be starting with ideological orthodoxy and working backwards. Krugman has pointed to many examples of conservative economists saying laughably stupid things to defend the idea that tax cuts are more efficient.
posted by diogenes at 5:23 AM on February 8, 2009


Bush's economic policy can be summed up as massive deficit spending combined with cutting marginal tax rates. This has been a disaster. The stimulus can be summed up as massive deficit spending combined with cutting marginal tax rates. But it will save the economy!
I'd say the big difference is where the money is being spent. A lot of the deficit spending from Bush went/goes into the military and to infrastructure projects in Iraq (and Afghanistan, to a lesser extent). In short, that money is gone from us in the short/medium term. The stimulus bill, on the other hand, spends the money in America and on American infrastructure so we get not only the benefits of the money being spent but also the benefit of the thing they money is being spent on.
posted by Godbert at 5:50 AM on February 8, 2009


delmoi, are you sure that this could be presented as an ordinary budget bill that wouldn't require 60 votes to pass? I've read in various places, including here, that because of an act and associated legislation passed in the 70s, any bill that will increase the deficit requires 60 votes.
From what we can gather from the news, the 60 vote threshold is necessary because the bill violates "the Budget Act." ...

Between the various Budget Acts and subsequent budget resolutions, the Congress has established various rules that restrict their spending ability, most of which can be triggered by points of order against bills that violate these rules. This set of rules is distinct from the standing rules that govern floor and committee procedures. Instead, they're statutory provisions that bind future Congresses to certain budgetary procedures. The various acts and resolutions establish points of order that, if raised against bills or amendments that break the rules, can have the effect of preventing them from consideration (and therefore passage). The points of order possible are numerous and cover several distinct aspects of the budget and spending process, but are not self-enforcing. They have to be affirmatively raised by a Member during consideration of the bills or amendments in question in order to be effective. ...

So I think that's it. Section 201(b)(1) of S. Con. Res. 21, passed by the 110th Congress, appears to be at least one reason why it will take 60 votes to pass the stimulus bill in the Senate, and likewise any conference report arising from it. I'm not yet entirely clear whether any other points of order apply, and if so, whether there would be any particular reason for raising one versus the other, or even whether you can raise them all. But this one seems the most clearly applicable, though I could still be wrong about that. Nobody's really saying just yet exactly which one it is.

But this, I guess, is why when you read about it in the traditional media, they just say, "the Senate will require 60 votes to pass it," and it's left at that. Still, it'd be nice if they held themselves to the "Prove it!" standard once in a while.

This should also, by the way, partly explain for some of you why Senate Democrats aren't "forcing the Republicans to actually filibuster" the bill if they want to require 60 votes to pass it. It would require 60 votes anyway, filibuster or not.

Don't you think Senators could have avoided a lot of headaches for themselves and their constituents if they'd said something about that? Maybe they did, I don't know. I didn't ask any of them.
posted by maudlin at 5:58 AM on February 8, 2009


I don't know much about Harry Reid's boxing career, did he have a glass jaw?
posted by Mick at 6:22 AM on February 8, 2009


Here's the scary thing I keep in the back of my mind: This won't work. Really, it won't. No matter what form it takes, the majority of politicians controlling this series of events are simply too stupid to understand the problem in the first place, much less come up with a proper solution. A proper solution would require a lot of pain and sacrifice. This idea that we can somehow patch up the system and return to where we were before this death spiral was obvious is absolutely insane.
posted by odinsdream at 6:50 AM on February 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


The problem with current economic thinking. Long but a must read.
posted by Duug at 7:04 AM on February 8, 2009


Bush's economic policy can be summed up as massive deficit spending combined with cutting marginal tax rates. This has been a disaster. The stimulus can be summed up as massive deficit spending combined with cutting marginal tax rates. But it will save the economy!

One of the differences is that under some economic thinking, Bush had it completely backwards. Taxes are supposed to go up and spending down during good economic times, while deficit spending and lower taxes are considered more useful in bad economic times.
posted by drezdn at 7:05 AM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Don't worry, EmpressCallipygos--I'm doing just that myself, and really I work in outreach, so I'm encouraging a whole network to the same!

My apologies if that came across as snark, then, and I'm raising my coffee cup in a toast.

I just have heard too many people who've grumbled about the government and how "they never listen to the people" but then I find out that they've never tried calling their congressman, or in some cases they've not even voted. My own pet peeve.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:30 AM on February 8, 2009


Honestly, I think something batshitinsane is in order. something along the lines of...

"OK, free-marketers. Here's a handful of tax cuts. Now, go fix yourselves. Oh, and here's the new rules you have to live by. Sorry about those mandatory interest rate ceilings. Maybe you should think about cutting the bonuses this year? Meanwhile, you know all those billions in free cash we were thinking of handing you? Yeah, well, instead, we're going to build a big-ass economic safety-net for the citizenry you've been raping. National healthcare, retirement funding, unemployment insurance. All the stuff they need in order to survive your bullshit. Oh, and we're either going to impose a reduction in their debt or retire it altogether. We haven't decided which, yet."

'Cause all we're doing now is pouring more coal into the fire to keep the train heading in the same direction it was going when it flew off the tracks.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:59 AM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


How about a spending bill that gives gobs of money for infrastructure spending, then pays for it with massive cuts to Republican states and programs? That wouldn't require the 60 votes, since it wouldn't increase the deficit? Well, then.
posted by jamstigator at 8:17 AM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know much about Harry Reid's boxing career, did he have a glass jaw?
Who knows? To know that, he would have to have been hit. I think it's significantly more likely that he went to the canvas well before that point.
posted by Flunkie at 8:42 AM on February 8, 2009


What do we make/manufacture in this country?

Automobiles
Automobile parts
Automobile assembly and manufacturing equipment
Commercial vehicles
Commercial vehicle manufacturing equipment
Advanced commercial fixed-wing aircraft
Advanced military fixed-wing aircraft
Advanced commercial fixed-wing aircraft parts
Advanced military fixed-wing aircraft parts
Advanced rotary-wing aircraft
Advanced rotary-wing aircraft parts
Farm equipment
Farm equipment manufacturing equipment
Pharmaceuticals
Pharmaceutical manufacturing equipment
Advanced microprocessors
Microprocessor fabrication equipment
MRI scanners
MRI manufacturing equipment
Other medical imaging equipment
Medical radiation equipment
Recombinant bacteria
Agricultural hybrid strains
Refrigerators
Washing machines
Clothes dryers
Dishwashers
Construction equipment
Construction equipment manufacturing equipment
Miscellaneous manufacturing equipment
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:42 AM on February 8, 2009


All governments are lying cocksuckers. Not even ALL CAPS can save us now.
posted by Curry at 8:51 AM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


The absolute disaster in that list is the $40 billion cut for the states. Many states are in a very bad place -- they're looking at massive deficits, and they cannot deficit-spend, they must balance the books.

Cutting this line means these states are going to have to massively gut spending. This means, of course, lots of people are going to lose their jobs. Without work, they're going to spend much less.

This is anti-stimulus -- which means it'll take that much more federal stimulus spending to overcome it.

The senate bill, between the extra tax cuts and the spending reductions, is a gift - - to the GOP. What they want is a stimulus bill that won't work *and* that they can oppose. A bill that works means they're out of power for a generation or two. Just blocking a bill means they get blamed. Instead, they've "compromised" into a bill that is useless in stimulating the economy, and then they said "fuck you" and voted against it anyway. So, they get the perfect bill -- one that won't help the economy, one that they opposed, but didn't stop, and one they can put all the blame for on Obama and the Dems.

In two years, as were talking about the Obama Depression, they'll be able to say "We told you this wouldn't work, which is why we voted against it" and they'll retake the House.

All because Obama wants to be "bipartisan" and Ried makes Daschle look assertive and effective.
posted by eriko at 9:16 AM on February 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


cklennon wrote There are lots, and lots, and lots, of competent, educated, smart people (economists) who simply don't believe that government spending stimulates the economy efficiently. And they deserve to be heard.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that why we have elections? What I mean is, those people have been running the show for the past 8 years, and the result has been the mess we're currently in. Isn't that enough listening to them? Shouldn't we maybe say "thanks for fucking things up, now we're going to ignore your disastrous advice and give a different approach a try?"

What I want to know is where the hell the re-regulation bills are? We've had 8 years of Bush shredding every regulation he could get his hands on, and before that 8 years of Clinton not doing much better. And we've seen that without draconian regulation, massive oversight, etc the banking industry turns into a feted cesspool of corruption and filth. So, yeah, I'm glad to see Obama proposing caps on executive salary for people getting bailed out. But where are the re-regulation bills? Where are the bills to triple, or quadruple, or whatever it takes, the SEC staff so they can do their jobs and really monitor the financial industry? Where are the bills enacting strike teams of government accountants to do no knock entry to corporate boards across America and make sure that they aren't screwing us like Enron and the others did?
posted by sotonohito at 9:17 AM on February 8, 2009


Wait. Is this an economic stimulus package, or a "give money to stuff we think deserves money because it's 'good' package?" Whether money from this bill is designated to a particular thing should be determined solely by whether that expenditure will serve the purpose of government stimulus of the economy (see, e.g., Keynes). If an expenditure will not go in a significant way toward accomplishment of the Keynsian goal of bolstering the economy through massive government spending, then that expenditure should be eliminated from the bill, no matter how "noble" it may seem.

Noble expenditures by government, such as expenditures for scientific research generally, the arts, construction of prisons, NASA, and that sort of thing and the others listed in this FPP, should not be included in an economic stimulus package unless it can be demonstrated that such expenditures accomplish the bill's goal.

If we want to spend government money on those things, then enact other legislation to do it. The question re; this bill should not be "do I think this is a worthy cause for spending?" It should be "will this help the economy as Keynes prescribed?"
posted by The World Famous at 9:28 AM on February 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maybe they're waiting to see if we even HAVE a financial industry in six months before hiring a bunch of extra people to regulate it.

Seriously, one (more) big bank goes down and we are going to be in a WORLD of hurt. And BoA is teetering and could head toward collapse any day. Safer to just nationalize the dying banks, sell off their crap for whatever we can get, eradicate shareholder value, clean up their books, then sell them back into the private sector to the highest bidder. Cost to taxpayers? Nothing. (Unless you're a shareholder in a failed bank.) Waaaay cheaper than throwing truckloads of money at them or buying their crap paper for inflated prices.
posted by jamstigator at 9:32 AM on February 8, 2009


partisan shitwhistles

Oh, that's the term. No wonder my boss got confused when I called in sick and told him I had a case of the Republicans.

Expiration dates are there for a reason, kids.
posted by oaf at 9:52 AM on February 8, 2009


It amazes me that the Republicans are more effective with 41 senators than Harry Reid and the Democrats are with 57-59 (depending on how you count). The Republican minority has accomplished more in two weeks than Reid et al did in several years. Several years in which they weren't even a minority.
Well, you have to look at Obama in this as well, I mean he's the one who wanted this nice bipartisan tone, and he's perfectly willing to validate republican frames about porkbarrel spending and waste, unfortunately.

Look, he actually called up Susan Collins and Arlan Specter and thanked them for their "Patriotism" This bill was hashed out with Obama and Rahm Emmanual. He's also praised them in his 'radio address' on You Tube.
The alternative is to let it happen. That's bad if the stimulus can stop it. But it's better than the stimulus if the stimulus isn't going to work since bad things happen either way and at least you're not out 900billion if you don't spend it.
It's not an either-or situation. Some stimulus will be helpful, and the more you do the better it is, although if you don't do enough it probably would go to waste. Your right though that it's actually only $400 billion (or whatever) of actual stimulus spending, although the case can be made that tax cuts that go to lower-middle class people will work as stimulus because they have to actually spend the money.
Oh, for people (like me) who think Bush's economic policy has been a disaster for the United States but still support this stimulus, riddle me this:

Bush's economic policy can be summed up as massive deficit spending combined with cutting marginal tax rates. This has been a disaster. The stimulus can be summed up as massive deficit spending combined with cutting marginal tax rates. But it will save the economy!
Bush's economic polices didn't cause the crisis, it was his regulatory policies, specifically letting wallstreet create a bunch of hidden liabilities, and housing policy that encouraged a nation-wide housing bubble and the fact those two things combined to create banks that were all insolvent. If all of that fake money didn't exist, banks wouldn't be able to load up their balance sheets with and suddenly become insolvent. That's why we're having the trouble we are not, not Bush's government debt. Although if he hadn't done that, we might have some money to use as stimulus now rather then issuing more debt.

I don't think the Republicans are really interested in that sort of considered action—they're pretty clearly just punishing Obama and the Democrats while the opportunity exists—but even if their motives are completely wrong I'm not sure their actions aren't right. The way the stimulus is being rammed through just plain sucks. It's the worst sort of knee-jerk, "just do something" politics, and I've never seen much good come out of those situations. Crisis lawmaking creates pretty crappy laws.

That doesn’t mean we should do nothing when actual crises show up.
Wait. Is this an economic stimulus package, or a "give money to stuff we think deserves money because it's 'good' package?" Whether money from this bill is designated to a particular thing should be determined solely by whether that expenditure will serve the purpose of government stimulus of the economy (see, e.g., Keynes). If an expenditure will not go in a significant way toward accomplishment of the Keynsian goal of bolstering the economy through massive government spending, then that expenditure should be eliminated from the bill, no matter how "noble" it may seem.
What are you talking about? Giving money to "noble" causes does stimulate the economy, provided that that money is then spent to hire people to do things. This is just a reiteration of the "how is that simulative!?" non-argument. There's really nothing in the bill that is non-simulative, all spending is simulative unless the money is just going to be hoarded and not spent.

Secondly the crap that got cut (like aide to states) is far more stimulative then the stuff that didn't get cut, like idiotic tax cuts (which often will just get saved)

posted by delmoi at 10:04 AM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope that all of you who care about your country's future are contacting your representatives and giving them hell. Make sure you let them know that if they fuck this up, you'll be making extra efforts to ensure they are never re-elected.

As for tax cuts:

There was a time the USA had a 70% tax on the ultra-wealthy. Now it's 25%, and there are innumerable loopholes to further reduce their tax burden. On the whole, the ultra-wealthy are paying far, far less of their wealth in taxes than you.

The top 1% have 50% of the wealth, and your government does not adequately tax them on it.

Little frigging wonder the government is short on cash.

You want tax increases, not tax cuts.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on February 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


By the way, we manufacture a ton of stuff in this country, far more then in say, the 70s. But so much of it is automated that it requires far fewer employees now then it did then.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on February 8, 2009


By the way, we manufacture a ton of stuff in this country, far more then in say, the 70s.

Citation, please.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:07 AM on February 8, 2009


I have an idea, how about a stimulus package targeted at the States. Give each state .5 billion for every member of Congress. Small states with only 1 Representative and 2 Senators would each get 1.5 billion while California would get 27.5 billion.

Total cost, just 267.5 billion.
posted by Mick at 11:29 AM on February 8, 2009


We have all emailed our Congresspersons and Senators to express our outrage, right?

RIGHT???
posted by Bummus at 11:35 AM on February 8, 2009


Citation, please.

Citation.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:19 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Turns out the unions predicted this over two decades ago:
If the AFL-CIO is right, the U.S. is headed for long-run trouble: incomes will decline, the economy will generate less wealth, business will lose important markets, and living standards will fall. But a close look at what has been happening to employment and earnings patterns -- and what is likely to happen -- suggests that the fear of deindustrialization is considerably exaggerated. (Fortune Magazine, 1985)
The number of people employed in manufacturing has plummeted from ~25% forty years ago, to under 10% today.

Median salary for manufacturing in 1969 was ~$3/hr, equivalent to $15–20/hr in 2007 dollars. Median salary in 2007 is ~$17/hr. Average working week has remained steady at ~40hrs.

Median salary for hospitality services, which is the sector that has largely mopped-up the losses from manufacturing, is under $11/hr. Average weekly hours is also far, far lower, at ~25hrs.

In thinking about what these changes in employment and wages means, keep in mind also the ripple effect. When someone has a manufacturing job, someone else also has a job to extract raw resources, to convert raw resources to supplies, to make parts for the machinery, to repair machinery, to ship products, to sweep floors. Service industry jobs do not have nearly as beneficial an effect.

The loss of manufacturing jobs has gutted the middle class and is going to ultimately destroy the US. A workable economy demands a full gamut of jobs: it can not succeed with just floor sweepers and CPU designers. Without a middle tier of jobs, the economy will inevitably snap at its hourglass waist.

conversion
posted by five fresh fish at 12:41 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, here is some raw data. (explanation) do a cntrl+F and search for "MTM" that's total manufacturing. The columns represent the months. In december 1979, there was about 152 billion of industrial manufacturing output, and in December of 2000 there was about 380 billion. I'm not sure if these figures are inflation adjusted, but even if they were not that's still more in 2000 then 1979. Normally these types of figures are inflation adjusted. What about today?
New orders for manufactured goods in December, down five consecutive months, decreased $14.8 billion or 3.9 percent to $362.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This was the longest streak of consecutive monthly decreases since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 6.5 percent November decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 4.4 percent. Shipments, also down five consecutive months, decreased $11.3 billion or 2.9 percent to $377.6 billion. This was the longest streak of consecutive monthly decreases since March-July 1998 and followed a 6.5 percent November decrease.
So December 2008 had lower manufacturing output then December 2000. Thanks bush!
posted by delmoi at 12:51 PM on February 8, 2009


There was a time the USA had a 70% tax on the ultra-wealthy. Now it's 25%, and there are innumerable loopholes to further reduce their tax burden.

The loopholes are still there, but the top tax rate here is 35%.
posted by oaf at 12:53 PM on February 8, 2009


The number of people employed in manufacturing has plummeted from ~25% forty years ago, to under 10% today.

It's true that far fewer people are employed, but total output is much higher.
posted by delmoi at 12:58 PM on February 8, 2009


The loopholes are still there, but the top tax rate here is 35%.

Actually, given how much of the ultra-rich are paid with stock options that get taxed at capital gains, the real tax rate for the people with the most money is 15%.
posted by delmoi at 12:59 PM on February 8, 2009


Citation.

Meaningless. It simply shows that production is up. But it doesn't factor in anything. Is manufacturing up per capita? Against the GDP? Accounting for inflation? Is it really up in any meaningful way, or is it just a simple and stupid number?

And in the end, it doesn't really matter. What matters is whether the distribution of income is one that can sustain an economy. And it isn't: there has been a gutting of jobs that would allow one to live a secure, middle-class lifestyle. It has become so hugely distorted — a tiny proportion of people putting most of the GDP in their pockets, and a huge proportion of people who are in the shitter — that there is no possible way for the status quo to continue.

If the USA continues on its present track, the standard of living for 75–90% of its population is going to be pile-driven into the ground. Permanent depression-era living for the majority.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:00 PM on February 8, 2009


stock options that get taxed at capital gains

That would be the big loophole. I was referring to wages, salaries, tips, etc.
posted by oaf at 1:05 PM on February 8, 2009


As the economies of developing nations grow, perhaps it is only logical that those of developed nations will shrink. Economies might not be finite, but our planet is, and with our current level of technology economic growth has immediate and detrimental effects on our resources and on the health of our planet.

I've long wondered why our economic ideologies privileged growth over stability - and now it's looking like stability will be the optimistic case. What I really believe is that we in the developed world, especially in North America, will all see a reduction in livestyle. That doesn't need to be terrible - most of us could live quite happily with a little less space, with fewer new clothes or consumer goods, with simpler food. Some of this contraction will bring hardship - people have designed their lives around having a personal vehicle, for example. But when necessity happens, people adjust.

A four bedroom, two bath house with a big yard and two cars - this may just become something only the upper class has. Regular families will live with two-three bedrooms, with one bath (and an opaque shower curtain), with one car (if they are lucky). This is already how the working class and poor live. Maybe we'll see the revival of rag men, buying and selling used clothes; no more perfectly good couches on the corner just because someone wanted to change the colour of their living room set.

I think this will just become the economic reality - and for the sake of our planet, and for beginning to approach some equity with the other 5 billion people in the world - maybe it should be.
posted by jb at 2:41 PM on February 8, 2009


There isn't much left of the middle class right now. The middle class isn't just dying; it's almost dead.

First, let me tell you something personal: my household (2 people) makes about $85-$90k/year after taxes, plus or minus. I'm not saying that to brag. That amount allows us to live comfortably in a small house (3 BR, 1.5 bath), with one newish middle-class four-cylinder car (2008 Camry). We don't have enormous savings (5 digits). We live in an area with low cost-of-living. We grow some of our own food. We don't take vacations or spend profligately in any way. To be fair, we have very little debt: a bit on a HELOC, and the car is about half paid for.

Here is the scary thing: we are in the top 10% of households in the country in terms of income. I am not at all unsatisfied with my standard of living. I grew up poor, so to me this is a life I couldn't, as a child, even imagine being fortunate enough to have. I am *extremely* thankful for my life. What I am utterly unsatisfied about is that the percentage of people able to afford to live this life, which is decidedly middle-class, is ONLY TEN PERCENT! If 90% of the country is worse off than I am, that is simply flat-out ridiculous.

I'm not sure what 'rich' means anymore. You would think anyone in, say, the top 20% should qualify as rich. Bottom fifth poor, top fifth rich, middle three-fifths middle class. It's looking a whole lot more like the bottom 50% is now poor, the next 45%+ are middle-class (that's me), and the top 5% or less (probably a lot less) are rich. The disparity is just too wide. The top 1% has gobbled their standard of living (which is really obscene) on the backs of the rest of us. Clearly, the middle-class has paid the price for that, which is why there are gobs fewer people IN the middle-class.

Note: I'm not complaining that I am not rich -- never expected to be, not hung up on status symbols or anything, completely happy just to have some security in my life. I'm complaining that there are just waaaaay too many poor now. That top 1% needs to be taxed much harder, and all of that money should be used in some way to alleviate the disparity, reduce the numbers of poor. We need to stop elevating the wealth of the already-super-wealthy, and work much harder on bringing up the standard of living of those at the economic bottom.

Bring back that 70% rate on the rich. (I realize that might even involve raising my own tax rate -- so be it.) Tax capital gains as income. Use those funds to pay off our national debt and help raise the standard of living, starting with those at the bottom. When that's done, nationalize healthcare and education, so that everybody gets both.

I don't think we're far from widespread civil unrest at this point, and we'll see that sooner rather than later if we don't start addressing the problem soon. Like, immediately.
posted by jamstigator at 3:15 PM on February 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


Once upon a time, America thought Prince Charming would glide in and kiss her, reviving her from a coma induced by a poison apple of greed, deceit, carelessness, recklessness and overreaching. But then the prince got distracted, seeing Lincoln in the mirror, and instead gave the kiss of life to a bunch of flat-lining Republican tax-cut fetishists.
posted by homunculus at 5:06 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


"so everyone here wants us to spend more money? really?"

Yes, really. Our infrastructure is falling apart. Remember that ridge collapse in Minnesota? The broken levees in New Orleans? The broken levees in Florida that threaten the Okefenokee Swamp and thus the ecology of the entire state?

It's a great time to do it, because when people are out of work and materials are cheap because they aren't selling, you can do it more cheaply. And given our grandchildren are ultimately footing the bill, it's something they'll actually be able to use.

We have to do it sometime; doing it now makes it a stimulus and cheaper. What's the argument against infrastruture, other than that yu except the United States not to be around in thirty years?

And the same argument applies to science R&D.

It doesn't apply to "more tax cuts for them that's gots", the Republican solution for everything.
posted by orthogonality at 5:14 PM on February 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Meaningless. It simply shows that production is up. But it doesn't factor in anything. Is manufacturing up per capita? Against the GDP? Accounting for inflation? Is it really up in any meaningful way, or is it just a simple and stupid number?

Well, that's not the citation I gave, that was someone elses's data. Mine shows manufacturing output is actually up even if you factor in inflation.

But that's beside the point. People often say we have no manufacturing, like at all and that's clearly false. In fact, we have more in absolute terms then we did in the 1970s. I don't know if it's more per capita or not, though.
posted by delmoi at 5:35 PM on February 8, 2009


Meaningless. It simply shows that production is up.

FFF, let me explain how the English language works.

When one person asserts that production is up, and another person demands a citation to that effect, then providing evidence that production is in fact up is not, in fact, meaningless.

To be sure, it does not answer the question that you would have asked. Strangely, nobody thought to provide evidence that could be productively brought to bear on the question you did not ask. Instead people here answered the question that was actually asked, in the way that it was asked.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:42 PM on February 8, 2009


The thing is Jamstigator you are rich. Most of us in the west are. It's just that in America we have been living on borrowed time for over thirty years. In the last ten we were generating false wealth by selling each other houses. And now we have to face facts. It's over.

The absurdity of the situation is that we are rich but there is this tiny class of people who control nearly everything that are so ungodly inhumanly rich we cant wrap our heads around it. The super-wealthy. And they are a tiny tiny fraction of the planet. And they do this with our complicity.

What the super rich have done is convince the rest of us that it was okay to live off of the teaming masses of impoverished people and their natural resources and we wouldn't have to work very hard for it. What kept the thing going was constant growth and debt. And that growth is a cancer now.

Forgive me for stating the obvious but wealth is generated the same 'ol way as it ever was. Labor hours or resource extraction.

Since most of us no longer extract resources somewhere we are either living off the cumulative hours worked by our ancestors, or exploiting a mass of other people that work hours.

So the last 100 years has been about growth... population growth. The more people on the planet the cheaper labor is the larger the base of potentially exploitable and desperate labor. We have been convinced by this system of this insane notion that population growth is sacred. This is the root of ALL out problems. To many people. Not enough resources ( or resources in such high demand that wealth e=inequity becomes entrenched by those that have these resources). Anybody tells you different they are kidding themselves.

You wont accumulate wealth working your own hours because in a growth based system, as time goes on and competition increases, there will not be enough hours in the day for you to accumulate enough labor hours off of just yourself. So here we are. We have to exploit other people. And in this system it's in our best interest that most people never move up the class ladder.

Now to fix out problems we have gone to the extreme measure of liviing off of our CHILDRENS future labor. Which will only doom them to an even worse situation eventually.

At this point I think this Keynesian approach is a necessary temporary step. But only if we begin working a new economic system that does not fetishize growth, material wealth, and status like we do now. But I have no idea what that looks like.

I am convinced if there were fewer people on the planet labor would be worth significantly more, the demand on resources would be less, welath would less concentrated and the environment could heal. We would not have to exploit people in the same manner we do now. Though slavery could become fashionable again for people who want to be "super-wealthy."
posted by tkchrist at 5:58 PM on February 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


Assembling inflation-adjusted manufacturing output, and inflation-adjusted manufacturing output per capita, is easy enough so I did that.

To answer your questions, FFF, real manufacturing rose rather sharply through the 60s through about 1978, and then tailed off sharply between 78 and 82 after which it rose noisily. As of 2000, inflation-adjusted manufacturing output was about 112% of that in 1980.

Real manufacturing per capita hit a peak in 1978, dropped sharply between 78 and 82, and maintained a noisy steady state after that. As of 2000, real per-capita manufacturing production was about 94% of that in 1980.

In both cases, values for the late 90s were substantially above those for the 1960s and early 1970s.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:58 PM on February 8, 2009



In both cases, values for the late 90s were substantially above those for the 1960s and early 1970s.

So much for the myth of the lazy American worker who wants join labor unions and spot weld ashtrays for $40 an hour.

Yes. Technology and continued application of efficiency analysis has created a highly productive workforce. A workforce than can produce more and still employ fewer and fewer people. So then we insist that people get paid less and less.

Then we make more and more stuff cheaper that fewer and fewer people can afford without resorting to debt. God it's a fucking beautifully evil god damned system isn't it.
posted by tkchrist at 6:09 PM on February 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Noble expenditures by government, such as expenditures for scientific research generally, the arts, construction of prisons, NASA, and that sort of thing and the others listed in this FPP, should not be included in an economic stimulus package unless it can be demonstrated that such expenditures accomplish the bill's goal.

Scientific research = researchers remain employed, expensive equipment gets purchased, stuff that needs researching gets researched.

Arts = arts organizations stay alive, employees/artists remain employed.

Construction of prisons = construction workers get employed, equipment and materials get purchased.

NASA = workers of all levels remain employed, massively expensive equipment gets purchased, cool stuff floats around in space.

Stimulus. Next?
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:10 PM on February 8, 2009


Here's the scary thing I keep in the back of my mind: This won't work. Really, it won't. No matter what form it takes, the majority of politicians controlling this series of events are simply too stupid to understand the problem in the first place, much less come up with a proper solution. A proper solution would require a lot of pain and sacrifice. This idea that we can somehow patch up the system and return to where we were before this death spiral was obvious is absolutely insane.

I'm glad to see somebody understands.

You're right. This stimulus will not work.

And worse will be what the Republicans want which is simply transfer ALL public wealth; Land, parks, roads, rivers, forests, minerals, fisheries, wild life, schools, etc into private hands. So we can be serfs and they can be lords.

Though the western "lifestyle" is at an end, if we can retain at least the idea that we are a society that has a shared set of values and a shared precious legacy that is worth more than money— stuff that no single person or enity can or should ever own, then we will be okay.

If we can't do that and these criminals get back in charge they are gonna drum up the panic and convince people we can all have 6,000 square foot houses and SUVs again. And all we have to do to pay for will be to sell everything to rich people. THEN we will be really fucked.
posted by tkchrist at 6:22 PM on February 8, 2009


The last thing the USA needs is more prisons. FFS, you have 5% of the world's population and 25% of its prisoners.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:24 PM on February 8, 2009


Woah, check this out
I’m really shocked by the extent to which the architects of the Senate cuts to the recovery package aren’t being made to offer any kind of justification for their actions. And in the absence of pressure, they certainly aren’t doing it of their own accord. I wanted to see, for example, what Ben Nelson (D-NE) had to say for himself, and what he had to say was this, with his partner in crime Susan Collins (R-ME) chiming in:
“This bipartisan agreement delivers the help millions of Americans need in this time of economic turmoil,” said Senator Nelson. “It fuels two powerful engines: major tax cuts for the middle class, and targeted investments in American infrastructure and job growth. It also pares back $110 billion of spending that didn’t belong in the bill. We’ve trimmed the fat, fried the bacon, and milked the sacred cows. What remains will fund education, an energy Smart Grid, tax credits for homebuyers and other critical infrastructure.”

“This deal represents a victory for the American people,” said Senator Collins. “We came together to tackle the most immediate problem facing the nation. This package cuts $110 billion in unnecessary expenditures. These are not minor adjustments, but major changes. It contains robust spending on infrastructure to create jobs, $87 billion in assistance for states, and assistance to schools, especially for special education and Pell grants. This bill is not perfect, but it represents a bipartisan, effective and targeted approach to the crisis facing our country.”
Would you ever in a million years have guessed from this rhetoric that the primary change Collins and Nelson made was to implement big reductions in aid to states and, especially, in funding for education? I think not.
posted by delmoi at 6:26 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


And still it's too big...
posted by timburns15330 at 6:44 PM on February 8, 2009


Here's the problem: production has increased. But the numbers of the poor have grown, and the wages of the middle-class have stagnated. So, that means that that increased production has benefited...whom? The very, very wealthy. It's no secret. Warren Buffett called those $1.3 trillion tax cuts from Bush 'welfare for the rich', and it was. Funny how the Republicans rant and rave against a 'socialistic transfer of wealth', but only when it benefits the poor at the expense of the rich. When it goes the other way, well hell, that's their solution to every fiscal problem. Make the rich richer, and stuff will trickle down, yada yada. It's hard to believe that's STILL their solution when it was demonstrably false in the Reagan era *and* the Bush 43 era.

I hope Obama's biding his time until he can get the 60 Senate votes in 2010, then he can just roll over these idiots and get done what We The People need done. Screw bipartisanship. He tried, he reached out, and they slapped him in the face. Obama should play hardball henceforth. Let THEM reach out to HIM when they get tired of being ignored.
posted by jamstigator at 6:46 PM on February 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The last thing the USA needs is more prisons.

No, the last thing we need is more prisoners. I don't disagree with you there. But as you point out, we have too many, hence the need for more prisons.
posted by schoolgirl report at 8:44 PM on February 8, 2009


A lack of prisons puts a natural limitation on the number of prisoners.
posted by delmoi at 9:16 PM on February 8, 2009


Or you need release the hundreds of thousands of people who have been jailed for victimless crimes, especially those who have been jailed for possession of personal amounts of marijuana.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 PM on February 8, 2009


The Republican party, in its own words, is going to use Taliban tactics. But, hey, don't be mistaking them for the American Taliban. Nosirree!

You people are so fucked if you don't start getting really politically active.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 PM on February 8, 2009


You people are so fucked if you don't start getting really politically active.

"Really politically active" meaning what, precisely? To what degree must one's level of activity be in order to meet with your approval?

No, really, I'd like to know; I've just come in here after sending three letters to my congressmen and calling them as well. Are you saying I should maybe save up to drive to Washington and see about a personal interview?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:32 PM on February 8, 2009


Assembling inflation-adjusted manufacturing output, and inflation-adjusted manufacturing output per capita, is easy enough so I did that.

Wouldn't the interesting number be manufacturing as percentage of GDP?
posted by afu at 11:37 PM on February 8, 2009


A lack of prisons puts a natural limitation on the number of prisoners.

Given the state of overcrowding in US prisons today, I would assert that this is not true.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:40 AM on February 9, 2009


A lack of prisons puts a natural limitation on the number of prisoners.

Not anywhere this side of inhumane treatment. Any examination of what we've done in the past when there were far more prisoners than we had cells to put them in does not support your "natural" limit theory.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:32 AM on February 9, 2009


When one person asserts that production is up, and another person demands a citation to that effect...

That's not what you asserted. What you said is "far more then in say, the 70s," not "up."

In fact, plugging your 1979 figure of 152B into fff's inflation calculator to get that value in 2008 dollars yields a range of values from 375B to 846B. Notice that your 362B figure for 2008 is not far more than 375B.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:17 AM on February 9, 2009


Fully Eliminated: $50 million for exploration

Well so much for my journey to Prince Rupert's land, and right when we were starting to make contact with the savages that live there. Tragic.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:11 AM on February 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't pretend to be an expert on economics. I did find this interesting:
Within the GDP data, however, is a series—goods output—that measures U.S. production of goods. The ... series, which accounts for about 40 percent of GDP, measures the same type of activity as manufacturing production does. Yet this series, like overall GDP, has behaved quite differently than the factory output numbers in recent years...

. . .

The other measure we examine, goods output, cumulates spending on goods in the United States by households, businesses, and governments ... plus exports of goods less imports of goods. At first glance, this concept appears quite similar to manufacturing production: U.S. spending on goods other than imports seems much the same as spending on goods produced in the United States, which in turn should be equivalent to the output of American factories.

In truth, however, there is a striking difference between the two measures (see box). ... a major distinction between the two indicators is the inclusion in goods output of the domestic service content of retail spending, whether the consumer good is made in a U.S. factory or abroad. ...
If someone who knows could clear up whether we *make* more stuff (not including the product of the service sector) than we did thirty years ago, it would help.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:38 AM on February 9, 2009


That's not what you asserted. What you said is "far more then in say, the 70s," not "up."

Clever readers will note that I didn't say that. Delmoi did.

At the same time, I've closed the spreadsheet I was working with, but production really was higher in 2000 than in the early 70s across all metrics. Like 30-50% higher. If I had it handy, I'd compute an average for the 70s.

Wouldn't the interesting number be manufacturing as percentage of GDP?

No, because the assertion that people make is not that the US makes relatively less manufactured goods, but still a lot absolutely, it is that almost nothing gets made in the US in an absolute sense.

It's also uninteresting because there are two ways that the share of GDP of an industry can go up or down: because production in that industry went down, or because production in other industries went up even more than production in that industry did. In this case, the second is what happened -- manufacturing production went up, if not at a particularly fast rate, and service production went up even faster.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:41 AM on February 9, 2009


If someone who knows could clear up whether we *make* more stuff (not including the product of the service sector) than we did thirty years ago, it would help.

The Federal Reserve's industrial & manufacturing production data come from surveys of relevant firms about how much they made and how many hours their employees worked, so it should track with actual shit made.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:53 AM on February 9, 2009


Your right, it's not "far" more, but rather "about the same" if you adjust for inflation.

Anyway, Check out this thread on avc where a venture capitalist and his readers discusses how they can make money off the rumored "bad bank" bailout 2.0.
posted by delmoi at 8:00 AM on February 9, 2009


Clever readers will note that I didn't say that. Delmoi did.

Leaves me out, obviously.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:13 AM on February 9, 2009


FWIW, I didn't mean to be that pissy. I'd never actually noticed what that stock phrase implied. Sorry.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:32 AM on February 9, 2009


Fuck, I was counting on that broadband funding.
posted by threeturtles at 11:40 AM on February 9, 2009


Krugman today: President Obama’s pursuit of bipartisanship, and the cuts imposed by “centrists,” have led to an inadequate, insufficiently effective stimulus bill
posted by homunculus at 12:16 PM on February 9, 2009


Should We Celebrate or Mourn?
posted by homunculus at 12:41 PM on February 9, 2009


homunculus Mourn.
posted by sotonohito at 1:26 PM on February 9, 2009


Eh, it's only 20% less spending then before. Those 600,000 people without jobs can eat tax cuts. (Or more likely, the bill will be fixed in conference comity)
posted by delmoi at 2:26 PM on February 9, 2009


er committee. Damn spellcheck.
posted by delmoi at 2:26 PM on February 9, 2009


That CNN list is strange. Why is the largest (by far) cut fourth from the last?
posted by Quonab at 2:36 PM on February 9, 2009


And "than before," delmoi. :-)

When's the next election of Senate or House representatives? It's time to kick a bunch of those useless mofos out on their ear. Too many of them see their job as "to get re-elected" instead of "to represent the best interests of the public."
posted by five fresh fish at 5:51 PM on February 9, 2009


When's the next election of Senate or House representatives?

2010—a third of the Senate, and the entire House.

It's time to kick a bunch of those useless mofos out on their ear. Too many of them see their job as "to get re-elected" instead of "to represent the best interests of the public."

This is because the larger an electorate is, the less it can remember. Even in countries with sane election cycles (the Obama '12 campaign began several weeks ago), this happens—Stephen Harper was comfortably in majority territory when he called the last election. And then Lehman Brothers imploded, and he ended up having to call a seven-week-long time-out just to keep his job.
posted by oaf at 7:08 PM on February 9, 2009


Cut the Nuclear Pork from the Stimulus Bill
posted by homunculus at 10:15 PM on February 9, 2009


Tangentially related: Mike Rowe has some things to say about jobs, labour, and stuff.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:34 PM on February 9, 2009


Obama's Stimulus Rope-a-Dope
posted by homunculus at 9:35 AM on February 10, 2009


I found that Rope-a-Dope article pretty convincing.
posted by serazin at 2:55 PM on February 10, 2009


That article is probably overly optimistic, but I like it the idea. For my sanity, I'm going to assume that's exactly what is happening until proven otherwise.

The problem is that the Republicans are really good at playing politics, and they have little concern for the ramifications of their actions. Obama has the disadvantage of not wanting to screw the majority of the country.
posted by diogenes at 4:51 PM on February 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


US lawmaker injects ISP throttle into Obama rescue package
posted by homunculus at 4:12 PM on February 11, 2009


Source: Collins Strips Stim Bill Of Whistleblower Protections
posted by homunculus at 9:27 PM on February 11, 2009


So much for the Rope-a-Dope: Grading the Stimulus Compromise
posted by homunculus at 1:10 PM on February 12, 2009


No network management amendment in final stimulus package
posted by homunculus at 3:39 PM on February 12, 2009


End The Honeymoon: Why the left is to blame for the lackluster stimulus and bank bailout.

Obama and liberals: a counter-productive relationship
posted by homunculus at 2:03 PM on February 13, 2009


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