Obama is No FDR (yet) and Needs to Read up on Hamilton

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Here is a brilliant take by James Pinkerton in a special Politico online forum on the failings of the Obama administration so far when it comes to turning this economy around:
BO-FDR Obama.jpg

Obviously the “stimulus” was a a dud–and the rate that things are going, the next “stimulus,” too, will be a dud. Deficit spending is valuable only if you get something more valuable in return for that spending. Otherwise, stimulus spending is just a ticket on the Argentina Express.
During the New Deal, we deficit-spent and in return, we got bridges, roads, dams, and entire power systems. And unemployment fell. Today, we are getting the promise of such systems, but not the results – the money is not being spent on tangible things, nothing is being built. Why? Because the process simply is not designed to go fast, because the environmental-impact-statement-writers and NIMBYs block everything — and the cap-and-traders stand ready to kill off the rest of the energy economy.
So of course unemployment is rising. There’s no stimulus, except for Yale
Law grads, and, of course, Goldman Sachs.
If President Obama wanted the nationwide economy to recover, he would have had to rethink America’s basic approach to infrastructure and energy, with an eye toward more, not less, sooner, not later. That was the legislation he should have sought back in January; instead, he made the narrow pipeline connecting inputs and outputs even narrower.
That’s a formula for slow-motion disaster, as we are seeing every day now.

Thus far, Obama has shown that he is more about reflating the economy than restructuring it — and unless he changes course in what will probably be a next stimulus package, Obama can not presume to Rooseveltian status — nor does he rank high in terms of Hamiltonian national economic thinking either.
While Hamilton laid the groundwork for national banking and credit, he always understood that the real economy and manufacturing strength were the core objectives behind his concept of national power. Obama is not there yet.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

25 comments on “Obama is No FDR (yet) and Needs to Read up on Hamilton

  1. WigWag says:

    And now we have this; Goldman Sachs is likely to report enormous, almost unprecedented profits from the very same trading activities so reminiscent of what caused the financial melt down in the first place.
    Unemployment continues to increase while the profits of investment bankers are bigger than ever.
    My question is should we be comparing Barak Obama to Franklin D. Roosevelt or Calvin Coolidge?
    Here’s the reference from today’s New York Times,
    Goldman Sachs Likely to Post Huge Profits, Analysts Say
    By GRAHAM BOWLEY and JENNY ANDERSON
    Published: July 12, 2009
    Most of Wall Street, and America, is still waiting for an economic recovery. Then there is Goldman Sachs.
    Analysts predict the bank earned more than $2 billion in the March-June period, thanks to its trading prowess across world markets. If they are right, the bank’s rivals will once again be left to wonder exactly how Goldman, long the envy of Wall Street, could have rebounded so dramatically only months after the nation’s financial industry was shaken to its foundations.
    The obsessive speculation has already begun, along with banter about how Goldman’s rapid return to minting money will be perceived by lawmakers and taxpayers who aided Goldman with a multibillion-dollar cushion last fall.

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  2. Mr.Murder says:

    Burlington has rebuilt the railroad tress intersections all through town. Now your front end is lucky to stay together through them. No telling how many tax dollars propped that pork up.
    They did pay extra Burlintton workers to stand around like they were doing something, not a lot of new jobs got created, some old ones padded the billable hours….

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  3. PrahaPartizan says:

    Dan Kervick posted 08 Jul 2009 @ 5:23PM
    “…Steve says our continuing economic woes have something to do with a need for some kind of Hamiltonian manufacturing base something-or-other. But I literally don’t know what he’s arguing for. Certainly the economic package does contain a lot of stuff aimed at seeding development of the green economy. It’s just not stuff that can be classified as short-term stimulus…”
    Steve is arguing for a national industrial policy, which, quite frankly, is something that I could support. Virtually every other developed country on the planet has one, either expressly stated or implicitly understood. We don’t. We have nothing. We believe in the process of muddling through (I believe the French had adopted the same concept going into 1939 and 1940 too – including a specific word, debrouiller).
    We need to have some idea of what level of the economy will depend our making things we can export and just what those sectors will be. Steve is pushing for creating and institutionalizing the process whereby that gets accomplished. We need to reach a consensus nationally on what that should be too. This dialogue was kick-started this past week by a controversial speech Imelt from GE made about the US needing to have at least 20% of GDP coming from manufacturing rather than the current 10%. I don’t know if 20% is the right number, but I believe we have all come to understand that 10% won’t cut it in the modern world.
    We need the consensus, because reaching that goal will demand placing much pressure on our financial institutions and trading partners. They’ve gotten wealthy by living off the dumb Americans who have allowed them to push us around. That means the State Department and Office of the Trade Representative will need to be much more aggressive in telling our trading partner who abuse world trading practices that the days of the dumb American have ended and make it stick. It also means that those at the very pinnacle of our society who have benefited abnormally because of the tilted trading conditions are going to be paying more for a period of time while we equilibrate the imbalances we allowed to develop. All of this is going to take leadership.

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  4. David N says:

    What’s left out of all the discussion of stimulous and economic policy is the very real understanding of economic systems that goes beyond the right-wing “free market” orthodoxy.
    This is what I refer to as “Yes, but” economic policy. The free market economy is assumed to operate most efficiently without government intervention, “but” government must intervene to protect less priviledged groups and the environment, etc.
    This ignores the very real lessons we have learned whenever Republican policies are implemented that the result is economic catastrophe. It also ignores the “positive externalities” that enter the economy when networked systems that do not directly pay for themselves, but do pay for themselves indirectly with economic growth.
    Examples are what we are talking about: infrastructure does not just generate the jobs involved in building the roads and power lines. It also generates many more jobs resulting from the investments and businesses that the infrastructure make possible. A very visible and real example for policy makers who have the vision to see beyond the Potomac River is the massive development in Arlington along the Orange Line Metro. Metro itself does not make money from the apartments, shopping malls, businesses, and restaurants, except for the tickets of people who use Metro to get to them. Those ticket sales do not cover the cost of Metro. The huge associated economic activity more than makes up for this.
    When will anyone start talking about this? When will someone break through the outdated, incomplete economic orthodoxy that allows Republicans to mislead the American public?

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  5. Tahoe Editor says:

    Just get a new pair of shades, pop some more Viagra candy and hop on the O-Train.
    http://www.politicalcartoons.com/cartoon/a017ee55-a149-43bc-b5a9-c29c64feba6d.html

    Reply

  6. S Brennan says:

    What is with this “shovel ready” BS. All projects take planning…and…um…who does “planning” robots? Think again folks, any large scale project has a cycle of employment. At each step of the process people of different skills are employed. Let’s put this silly phrase to bed.

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  7. fenerbahçe says:

    obama obama obama 🙂

    Reply

  8. Franklin says:

    Dan,
    We’re in agreement.
    Daivid,
    The biggest bottle-neck is in the Senate. As Anonymous 5:56 points out the special interests lobbies exercise influence beyond their actual numbers. They benefit from the fact that the public at large isn’t plugged into the minutiae of policy debates.
    In order to get things through like health care reform it requires more than just public approval of a given measure. Getting those measures passed requires active, wide-scale public participation in the process (e.g. contacting members of congress — especially in the Senate; giving volunteer hours; and ponying up cash for advocacy plans — even small dollar donations can make a difference).
    The members need to know that the public is paying attention, actively engaged, and that it knows the score (e.g. if a politician says he or she favors a “public option” — it’s also important to ensure that the “public option” isn’t simply served as a water-down “public option” in name only; it’s important to take note of which members are putting up road-blocks to reform).

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  9. Daivid says:

    I keep wondering how much independent power a POTUS actually has. Perhaps as his build his political power in various ways, he can then be more courageous. It is hard for me to believe he is short on either smarts or understanding.
    The public option might be the breakthrough, and since it enjoys something like 70% public approval, it could be one of the foundations of building that power. I think the meetings and agreements with Medvedev and Putin are also critical foundational building blocks.
    He just doesn’t have the luxury of time.
    I do have a different read on him than POA, as is pretty obvious, but I don’t know that I am right and he is wrong, or vice-versa. I am, however, troubled by the way things are playing out thus far.

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  10. Eric Garland says:

    The original Roosevelts were seen as traitors to their class – the financial oligarch class, ironically. They broke ranks with their fellow elites, creating legislation and paying for infrastructure that would actively change who won and lost in society.
    Obama has no stomach for that, or at least not enough power. His tactic has been to inflate our currency to prop up the failed assumptions of the 1990s and 2000s. This should be no surprise; he’s got Bob Rubin and Larry Summers along for the ride, and that seems to be their only talent.
    We therefore shouldn’t expect recovery or renewal of any sort, just a slower decline into economic chaos. Not a very bright future, but there we have it. If Obama can muster the courage to upset the winners of the current system, maybe we will get on the road to healing this nation.

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  11. ... says:

    quote from david up above “…what, besides some relentless courage on Obama’s part, can break this stalemate of special interest status quo which sank us in the first place.” ??
    that is the way i too see it david… the banking system and the military complex are the special interest status quo that are not interested in the average person, or only are in so far as they can further their own narrow agenda… unfortunately as i see it politicians of today work in cahoots with them and if they are to run opposite this, they jeopardize their ability to get anything done, as these are the 2 monsters that need to be constantly ”fed”…
    and you can forget about any concern for the environment with environmental laws also taking a back seat to the banking and military industries… sad but true and many facts are on display to confirm these for anyone interested in looking…

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  12. Dan Kervick says:

    I see your point PrahaPartizan. What Pinkerton is arguing is that we should have used the excuse of the economic crisis to further deregulate the economy, and specifically to wipe out years of progress in environmental regulation so that we could do everything fast. I’m surprised Steve thinks this is a “brilliant take” since it strikes me as rather cynical and disingenuous.
    Steve says our continuing economic woes have something to do with a need for some kind of Hamiltonian manufacturing base something-or-other. But I literally don’t know what he’s arguing for. Certainly the economic package does contain a lot of stuff aimed at seeding development of the green economy. It’s just not stuff that can be classified as short-term stimulus.
    And by the way, if we were to wipe out environmental laws we might speed up certain projects, but we would then also diminish the incentives for investment in the new green economic products, since the expected profitability of many of those products is based on anticipations of a social and economic order that is increasingly inhospitable to non-green production.

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  13. PrahaPartizan says:

    Dan K, I would agree with your idea about tax cuts, but the experience we’ve had with the two most recent tax rebate programs has been that the money was not spent. It was saved. Further, since the tax cuts were for income taxes, they did very little to help promote spending among working-class and lower-middle-class Americans. The tax cutters never talk about cutting FICA, because they basically intend to use it as a piggy-bank from which to subsidize outsize upper-class tax cuts.
    We can scream all we want about “shovel ready” projects, but even the most “shovel ready” projects will require about three months to get finalized. A “shovel ready” project is one which a state or local government has approved a budget for and has prepared a request for proposal. Any state or local government following honest buying practices would not have been ready to do this until the middle of April, at the earliest. Give a month for the bid preparation, a month to evaluate, two weeks to finalize a contract, and you find yourself at July 1. That’s how honest government works. We all know what happens when we have Republican government at work – deals cut in the middle of the night and money sent over under cover of darkness, with no accountability for the shoddy work being done. Halliburton can kill our troops in Iraq because nobody can touch them, but any contractor who builds a bridge on a highway which results in its collapse will find itself being sued out the ying-yang and legitimately so. They’ll also wind up paying.
    The bottom line is that July 1 was the real start date for those projects. But, you should also consider something else. Those financial analysts and contracting analysts in the state and local governments and the bid preparers in the contractors would have been out of work back in March if the prospect of the stimulus had existed. The flow of funds from the stimulus will keep them in work as we move forward as the funding gets assigned to the designated accounts.

    Reply

  14. Dan Kervick says:

    Franklin,
    I basically agree with you, and I think when we discussed this earlier in the year I agreed the tax cuts should ideally be targeted to people or businesses that would spend the money. But at the time there was a lot of Democratic resistance to the whole idea of tax breaks and cuts – including the proposed car purchase credit. My view was that we needed to get money spent quickly, whether the government spent it or gave it to people who would spend it. And I worried that there were not enough “shovel ready” projects available for the government to be handling all of the spending.

    Reply

  15. TonyForesta says:

    The Obama administration, and congress, dems and reps are completely captured (as in owned and controlled) by the finance oligarchs and the predatorclass. 13 Trillion, or in our humble hosts parlance – 13 THOUSAND BILLION taxpayer dollars have been forked over to the offshore accounts of the predatorclass cronies in the finance sector alone(.002% of population) in the form of low interest loans, guarantee’s, and direct. FAILED managements of FAILED intitutions bruting FAILED models and irredeemable debt ponzi schemes FAILED miserably and hurled the entire world to the brink of economic collapse.
    Obama had an opportunty to right these wrongs, nationalize the banking sector, remove the FAILED managements, curb the perverse and obscene compensation structures, reshape American finance and ultimately restore confidence in the goodfaith and credit of the US. Instead by bailing out the predatorclass theives, swindlers, and criminals on Wall Street who are singularly responsible for the greatest economic crisis since the depression – Obama has insured that NOTHING will change, and the only way forward is perpetuating the status quo of bubble/burst voodoo economics that only – singularly – and exclusively benefits the predatorclass.
    Poor and middleclass Americans have no hope of recovery while the predatorclass owns and controls the government.

    Reply

  16. TonyForesta says:

    The Obama administration, and congress, dems and reps are completely captured (as in owned and controlled) by the finance oligarchs and the predatorclass. 13 Trillion, or in our humble hosts parlance – 13 THOUSAND BILLION taxpayer dollars have been forked over to the offshore accounts of the predatorclass cronies in the finance sector alone(.002% of population) in the form of low interest loans, guarantee’s, and direct. FAILED managements of FAILED intitutions bruting FAILED models and irredeemable debt ponzi schemes FAILED miserably and hurled the entire world to the brink of economic collapse.
    Obama had an opportunty to right these wrongs, nationalize the banking sector, remove the FAILED managements, curb the perverse and obscene compensation structures, reshape American finance and ultimately restore confidence in the goodfaith and credit of the US. Instead by bailing out the predatorclass theives, swindlers, and criminals on Wall Street who are singularly responsible for the greatest economic crisis since the depression – Obama has insured that NOTHING will change, and the only way forward is perpetuating the status quo of bubble/burst voodoo economics that only – singularly – and exclusively benefits the predatorclass.
    Poor and middleclass Americans have no hope of recovery while the predatorclass owns and controls the government.

    Reply

  17. Franklin says:

    Dan,
    Most of your post is reasonable; however, I disagree with your reasoning that “more tax cuts” would have provided the optimal stimulus. The analysis that I’ve seen calls this into question.
    Krugman:
    “First, Mr. Obama should scrap his proposal for $150 billion in business tax cuts, which would do little to help the economy. Ideally he’d scrap the proposed $150 billion payroll tax cut as well, though I’m aware that it was a campaign promise.
    Money not squandered on ineffective tax cuts could be used to provide further relief to Americans in distress — enhanced unemployment benefits, expanded Medicaid and more. And why not get an early start on the insurance subsidies — probably running at $100 billion or more per year — that will be essential if we’re going to achieve universal health care?
    Mainly, though, Mr. Obama needs to make his plan bigger.”
    Brad DeLong and Krugman have both highlighted the fact that there’s a tendency to pocket any excess capital during an economic down-turn — this is one reason that we’ve seen increased savings in recent months.
    Some of these targeted, time-limited tax cuts on things like new vehicle purchases or energy efficient appliances, windows, etc. might front-load demand and provide a short-term boost (there’s some evidence that they have actually done as much).
    However, tax cuts provide no benefit to those pulling unemployment (an increasingly large part of the economy); businesses provided with additional tax cuts are unlikely to redirect that spending into business expansion when market conditions are what they currently are.
    I can see an argument against massive tax increases during a steep economic downturn; however, my recollection of the Keynesian view is that the public sector needs to fill the void when private capital starts withdrawing from the economy.
    Robert Reich from a year ago:
    “Fiscal policy is a surer bet, but Congress — especially the fiscally-conservative followers of Herbert Hoover called “blue-dog Democrats” — is still hung up about budget deficits. Now is the time to exhume John Maynard Keynes and understand that government must be the spender of last resort when there’s inadequate domestic demand. And the best and most urgent government spending now is for infrastructure — especially public transit (see my postings below). Dems should move quickly.
    More basically, the problem is weak consumer spending, which is directly related to the failure of jobs and wages to keep up.
    . . . .
    If the middle class is to continue to provide adequate spending to keep the economy going, taxes must be reduced on the middle class and the fiscal gap filled (deficits have to be filled eventually) by marginal tax increases on the highest incomes. Because their incomes are so high, the rich don’t spend nearly as high a percentage of their incomes as moderate-income and poor people (after all, the definition of being rich is having most of what you already want). The rich will not and cannot keep the American economy going on their own.”

    Reply

  18. Franklin says:

    Dan,
    Most of your post is reasonable; however, I disagree with your reasoning that “more tax cuts” would have provided the optimal stimulus. The analysis that I’ve seen calls this into question.
    Krugman:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/opinion/12krugman.html
    “First, Mr. Obama should scrap his proposal for $150 billion in business tax cuts, which would do little to help the economy. Ideally he’d scrap the proposed $150 billion payroll tax cut as well, though I’m aware that it was a campaign promise.
    Money not squandered on ineffective tax cuts could be used to provide further relief to Americans in distress — enhanced unemployment benefits, expanded Medicaid and more. And why not get an early start on the insurance subsidies — probably running at $100 billion or more per year — that will be essential if we’re going to achieve universal health care?
    Mainly, though, Mr. Obama needs to make his plan bigger. To see why, consider a new report from his own economic team.”
    Brad DeLong and Krugman have both highlighted the fact that there’s a tendency to pocket any excess capital during an economic down-turn — this is one reason that we’ve seen increased savings in recent months.
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/06/stimulus-arithmetic-wonkish-but-important/
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_07/018952.php
    Some of these targeted, time-limited tax cuts on things like new vehicle purchases or energy efficient appliances, windows, etc. might front-load demand and provide a short-term boost (there’s some evidence that they have actually done as much).
    However, tax cuts provide no benefit to those pulling unemployment (an increasingly large part of the economy); businesses provided with additional tax cuts are unlikely to redirect that spending into business expansion when market conditions are what they currently are.
    I can see an argument against massive tax increases during a steep economic downturn; however, my recollection of the Keynesian view is that the public sector needs to fill the void when private capital starts withdrawing from the economy.
    My sense is that the previous stimulus wasn’t a “dud” so much as it was insufficient and too modest to reverse the current crisis. In the absence of even the fairly modest measure though, it’s not hard to conceive that the current down-turn would be in even more dire straights without the federal intervention. The impact of the stimulus has also been hurt by cuts at the state level.
    Robert Reich from a year ago:
    “Fiscal policy is a surer bet, but Congress — especially the fiscally-conservative followers of Herbert Hoover called “blue-dog Democrats” — is still hung up about budget deficits. Now is the time to exhume John Maynard Keynes and understand that government must be the spender of last resort when there’s inadequate domestic demand. And the best and most urgent government spending now is for infrastructure — especially public transit (see my postings below). Dems should move quickly.
    More basically, the problem is weak consumer spending, which is directly related to the failure of jobs and wages to keep up. This problem, as I’ve indicated, has been long coming, although masked by the housing bubble that allowed consumers to borrow against their homes. If the middle class is to continue to provide adequate spending to keep the economy going, taxes must be reduced on the middle class and the fiscal gap filled (deficits have to be filled eventually) by marginal tax increases on the highest incomes. Because their incomes are so high, the rich don’t spend nearly as high a percentage of their incomes as moderate-income and poor people (after all, the definition of being rich is having most of what you already want). The rich will not and cannot keep the American economy going on their own.”
    http://robertreich.blogspot.com/2008/06/why-we-need-real-fiscal-stimulus.html

    Reply

  19. Dan Kervick says:

    The first paragraph of the preceding post is a quote from Steve’s post.

    Reply

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    Obviously the “stimulus” was a a dud–and the rate that things are going, the next “stimulus,” too, will be a dud. Deficit spending is valuable only if you get something more valuable in return for that spending. Otherwise, stimulus spending is just a ticket on the Argentina Express.
    I don’t understand this point. It seems to confuse the issues of Keynesian stimulus and longer-term public investment. Deficit spending is useful as an anti-recessionary measure even if you just give the money away, so long as the people to whom you give it generate demand and high multipliers by spending it on something quickly, rather than socking it away where it either stands idle or is loaned out to fund slower-moving spending projects.
    If anything, the reason the stimulus is slow-acting is because it contained *too many* long term public investments aimed at procuring something of long-term value, and *not enough* front-loaded stimulus. The tightening up of credit and the specter of financial institution collapse created a pervasive atmosphere of consumer panic and reactive frugality, and a self-reinforcing cycle of declining consumer sales and lost jobs.
    The political opportunity of the recession was confusingly used to fund a whole host of items from the progressive agenda, many of which will have a very slow-acting economic impact, and some of which are even short-term drains on the economy. Combined with the overall price tag associated with political feasibility, the abundance of long-term projects left not nearly enough for stimulus. What was needed was a plan to restore collapsing demand. And to do that we needed to restore consumer confidence, stop the hemorrhaging of jobs and put money in people’s pockets. Instead, many proposed restoring demand through public investment. But the problem was that those kinds of stimulus just weren’t fast-acting enough, so consumer confidence continues to sag, consumer wads continue to be tight and jobs continue to bleed away.
    The whole notion of anti-recessionary stimulus was constantly confused with other noble by longer-term economic plans that were part of the campaign agenda, but should have been back-burnered as we shifted our focus to restoring something close to ordinary economic activity. People were also torn during the transition period by a lot of conflicting instincts. There was a correct perception that the recession was caused by structural problems with over-consumption, easy money and unregulated financial wheeling and dealing. But this lead to the incorrect conclusion, drawn by many, that we could dig out while at the same time excoriating consumption as bad and evil. The whole country was in a weirdly ambivalent state – sometimes approaching a religious frenzy – about whether it really wanted to revive its economy, or was instead more interested in the dawn of some new puritanical regime of thrift, self-flagellation, sackcloths and austerity. Every declamation from the economic pulpits about decadent and spendthrift consumers, and the need to change our evil ways, put another group of Americans out of work.
    There was perhaps too much effort early on geared to restoring credit markets, as though once banks could loan again, people would automatically borrow and spend the money. But that wasn’t going to happen as long as already debt-ridden consumers were burdened with new loads of puritanical conscience about the very idea of spending on credit, and as long as the government did nothing to put more cash directly into their pockets.
    Democrats should have supported more tax cuts, which do put money directly in people’s pockets, and even deferred campaign pledges to restore the pre-Bush tax rates. There was time for that stuff later. The rational response to the recession might have been to delay some of the big new public investments, which mostly weren’t shovel ready, until we had a reasonably optimistic and flush economy. Yes, some more immediate infrastructure projects might have helped. But even most of those often take several months to get off the ground. And you can’t drive a whole economy from the construction industry.
    Perhaps more could have been done to reduce credit card debt and other debt? Credit forgiveness programs? More mortgage re-financing subsidies? Some of this was done, but not nearly enough. Again the problem was that we were too busy lecturing each other on how not to live. The government basically needed to run deficits to give money away to ordinary American consumers, and yet we were all busy abusing ourselves for our decadent addiction to the free lunches. If I had my way, the government would launch a program called the Free Lunches America, just to stick a finger in the eye of the credit and consumption puritans. In the long-term, we needed structural changes to increase overall savings. But we shouldn’t have placed so much effort on that in the fall and winter of 2008-09.
    When we look back on this and the government response, we will see the same old story: class warfare. The economic and cultural elites rushed out in a panic to protect themselves, their friends and their investment assets, handing out free lunches galore to fat cats and throwing fits about even talking of regulating multi-million dollar salaries, while at the same time lecturing those beneath them about their spending and borrowing habits, and the need to tighten their already constricted belts. We should have passed a law that instituted an across the board cap on all executive salaries, and forced companies to plow the savings into raising the salaries of all of their other employees.
    So I’m all for restructuring the economy – in a very big way. But let’s not confuse every kind of long-term utility-maximizing restructuring with economic stimulus. The reason the stimulus package has been inadequate is not just because it failed to do enough economic restructuring. It’s because it simply failed to be stimulating enough by failing to pump quickly spendable money out into the system.

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  21. Daivid says:

    The problem is the Senate, of course, as has pretty much always been the case (I’m reading Robert Caro’s LYNDON JOHNSON: MASTER OF THE SENATE – an eye-opener). And it is very, very powerful vested interests who simply want the status quo reinflated. But it is also a pundit class that really does more to help maintain whatever vested interests want than it does help the general public gain any useful insights. The standard rolodexes are so loaded in favor of established “received wisdom” and so truly anemic when it comes to really insightful analysts. One reason, I suspect, is that news directors are generally not all that insightful and are certainly more concerned about their relationships with those who pay the bills than anything else.
    I don’t know what, besides some relentless courage on Obama’s part, can break this stalemate of special interest status quo which sank us in the first place. I do think that if he will act, people will stand with him. If not, he’ll be a one-termer. Caution and standard compromise won’t get us out of this debacle. Smart, aggressive action will.

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  22. PrahaPartizan says:

    Of course the stimulus passed in April hasn’t gained traction yet, in large part because the whole program was designed to run through the state and local governments. It didn’t include any of those idiotic tax cut programs the right-wing favored which would have boosted the deficit while doing nothing for GDP because people would have saved the money and spent it on nothing. Rather, Obama’s program did focus on infrastructure projects. But, you know what, state and local government fiscal years didn’t start until about a week ago. They’re still wrestling with that terrible economy Bush and Cheney and their supporters created and bequeathed to Obama. They’re just starting to spend that stimulus money now, as an Ohio DOT spokesperson reported yesterday in response to yet another baseless charge from Representative Boehner from Ohio. The needed infrastructure spending is only now starting to flow into the economy. Yeah, it could have been done faster. Obama and the state and local governments could have just put the money on pallets and shipped it to contractors as the Republicans would have preferred rather than going through the usual bid process this spring. Then, Boehner could have alleged corruption and the fools like Pinkerton at Politico (yet another right-wing rag) would have lapped it up and regurgitated it verbatim.

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  23. Jack B. Nimble says:

    Look at the difficulty Obama was given by the Senate on the prior stimulus. FDR I don’t think faced this type of challenge….and FDR was aided by conditions being worse than what we face today, creating the widespread public consensus that larger action was necessary.
    The problem is the US Senate (i.e. the D “moderates” and the Republicans who are against any government action that involves spending on anything other than defense) and the de facto need for 60 votes for everything (never the intention of the filibuster concept.)

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  24. Dave says:

    This is nonsense. “Obviously the “stimulus” was a a dud”. Obviously according to whom? It was passed less than five months ago! Yes, the unemployment rate continues to rise, but job losses have slowed dramatically since January, and the labor market is lagging indicator anyway. And most of the stimulus hasn’t even been spent!

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  25. Franklin says:

    On balance the Obama team and Congress are moving in the right direction — the problem is that they aren’t moving along fast enough. There are some pretty well-entrenched interests who don’t want any modification of the status quo either (true in health care reform, new energy tech, banking reform, even in cutting gov’t waste in areas like the DoD).
    If Obama and Congress do pass a well-designed health care reform package with a genuine, strong public option — that in itself could be just as important as some of FDR’s better New Deal investments. Given that health care spending accounts for almost one-fifth of the economy; there is a tremendous opportunity to increase efficiencies in that area. So much private and public sector waste going into that area at the moment.

    Reply

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