Bipolar Finances: The Problem of Reclaiming Political Optimism

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James Pethokoukis of US News & World Report has just published an interesting article titled, “The Return of Big Government.”
He suggests that there is no way for either a Republican or Democratic administration to come in without spending a lot of money to deal with everything from climate change to the Iraq War to housing and health care.
My colleague Sherle Schwenninger, who directs New America’s Economic Growth Program, is quoted that national infrastructure alone needs $150 billion/year to deal credibly with the collapse of internal road and bridge infrastructure in addition to next generation infrastructure platforms that the nation needs to regain its footing for economic growth and innovation.
Others suggest that we are digging ourselves into bigger deficits and we need to cut it all.
There is no “political optimism” possible if the next administration is compelled to strangle down much needed infrastructure investment after the reckless war spending that the Bush administration has brought us.
And did anyone hear Andrea Mitchell say the other day that America’s spending on Iraq was not affecting the economy? She may be married to Alan Greenspan — but that is a seriously out of touch comment.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

8 comments on “Bipolar Finances: The Problem of Reclaiming Political Optimism

  1. TokyoTom says:

    “Others suggest that we are digging ourselves into bigger deficits and we need to cut it all.”
    I’m with these folks. We need to end the war, cut back on our empire and start letting the market finance infrastructure – by allowing immediate depreciation and by cutting corporate income taxes (which essentially discourage investment by double-taxing it).

    Reply

  2. Alohabunny says:

    Me thinks that Uncle has been in on it the whole time………..

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  3. Kathleen says:

    Who said, recently, that we are privatizing profits and socializing losses? I say Piratizing profits and stiffing Uncle Sam, offshore.

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  4. David says:

    One of the reasons I always read The Washington Note:
    There is no “political optimism” possible if the next administration is compelled to strangle down much needed infrastructure investment after the reckless war spending that the Bush administration has brought us.
    And did anyone hear Andrea Mitchell say the other day that America’s spending on Iraq was not affecting the economy? She may be married to Alan Greenspan — but that is a seriously out of touch comment.
    Thanks for that much-needed chuckle, Ben.
    And a resounding amen to erichwwk’s comment.

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  5. erichwwk says:

    Steve’s former boss Jeff Bingaman, has it right.
    see John Fleck’s ABQ Journal oped entitled “U.S. Energy Policy Lacks a Conductor” here:
    http://tinyurl.com/3lkn6n
    Although Bingaman’s comments were directed towards energy policy only (and framed the lack as one of process (a broker) his comments are just as relevant towards economic policy in general and to the choice between public good expenditure (infrastructure and human capital investment) and private investment. If we are not to go the way of the former Soviet Union (is their still time?), we MUST drop the ideological banter and adopt what China did when faced with a similar choice and Deng Xiaoping responded: ” “I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat. It’s a good cat so long as it catches mice.”
    Focusing on income (GDP) rather than on stock (improvements in human, natural, and man made capital) has obfuscated what has been happening — US investors had no scruples in letting US infrastructure and human capital deteriorate as they were quite able and willing to abandon the US in favor of countries that were building healthy societies)if it meant personal wealth accumulation. Treating luxury goods and conspicuous consumption on par with investment goods that increases future consumption is a model that does nothing for guiding policy that leads to growth and future economic health of a country.
    Kudos to Steve for framing the issues in a more meaningful context, one of optimality of choices with transparency of assumptions, and the extent to which the top one percent was willing to throw the rest of the US overboard. What is overlooked in this discussion, and what none wants to talk about, is how hard it will be to fix things once the horses have left the barn. Sooner or later we will all indeed learn that reality is everything and perception and delusion nothing. Let’s hope we learn it the Chinese, rather than the Russian, way.

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  6. Bartolo says:

    That comment by Andrea Mitchell is the second such one I’ve heard in the last two days. Of course she and hubby aren’t bothered by high prices when they vacation in Europe.
    Another example of why our reporters and pundits should not be overly wealthy.

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  7. Mr.Murder says:

    Alan Greenspan has forgotten more about economics than Keynes ever didn’t know.
    Alan Greenspan is Irrationally Exuberant, must be the subprime Viagra he had a fix for.
    Alan Greenspan has forgotten more about economics than Alan Greenspan ever learned about economics.
    Don’t hold anything wifey Greenspan says against her, she’s just a network ‘reporter’ and they do not get paid to think.
    Let them eat supplementary spending!

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  8. Ben Rosengart says:

    Someone in the Greenspan household seriously out of touch? O,
    say it is not so!
    Do you remember when Alan told the nation that we ought to be
    entering into more adjusted-rate mortgages?
    I’m sure Alan Greenspan has forgotten more about economics
    than I will ever know, but you don’t need Bob Dylan to tell you
    when a weatherman is blowing smoke up your a**. Or something
    like that.

    Reply

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