Political Malpractice in the First Degree

-

unemployed.jpg
This is a guest note by Leo Hindery, Jr. Hindery is Chairman of the US Economy/Smart Globalization Initiative at the New America Foundation and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Currently an investor in media companies, he is the former CEO of Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), Liberty Media and their successor AT&T Broadband. He also serves on the Board of the Huffington Post Investigative Fund.
“Guilty of political malpractice in the first degree.” That’s what Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said the other day about President Obama allowing himself to be negotiated in early 2009 into an economic stimulus package that was “far too small.”
The proof of this conclusion is found all over the November 2, 2010 election results. Of the 41% of voters who say their financial situation is worse, Democrats won just 35% of them and the GOP won 65%. Just two years ago, Democrats won this group 75% to 25%.
I will always believe that the administration’s decision to turn over the economy to an economic team led Larry Summers and Tim Geithner preordained the 2010 election debacle more than any other action. When Karl Rove indicts, as he did just before the election, President Obama’s “incoherent closing argument” for completely missing the fact that “the economy and jobs [were] the No. 1 issue in every poll” and then lauds the Republicans for “drawing attention to lackluster job growth and the failed stimulus”, you just want to cry.
As Michael Hirsh wrote in Newsweek, President Obama arrived in office perceived by many as the second coming of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Yet rather than acting like FDR, he “presented himself as completely unprepared to address the broken economy and financial system and faithfully channeled Summers and Geithner and their conservative approach to stimulus and reform”, while putting health care reform above all else.
To this point, just a week ago, on November 8, President Obama very mistakenly said that he and his administration “didn’t do what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, which was basically wait for six months until the thing had gotten so bad that it became an easier sell politically.” The truth is that FDR took office on Saturday, March 4, 1933, called Congress into special session to meet five days later on March 9th, and by June 15th, at the end of the “Hundred Days”, had seen almost all of the early New Deal financial legislation passed.
The Obama economic team, all of whom were once acolytes of Clinton Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, who was the champion behind much of the financial deregulation and the unfair free trading which have brought our economy to its knees, gave the President a too-small and misdirected stimulus package, with way too much going toward transfer payments and way too little to job-producing public works and infrastructure. Larry Summers said that unemployment would peak at 8 percent in 2009, and then at the team’s urging, the President claimed the package as the greatest early-term achievement ever by a first-term President, which immediately turned Bush’s Great Recession irretrievably into Obama’s.
As James Galbraith has written, “the original sin of Obama’s presidency was to assign economic policy to a closed circle of bank-friendly economists and Bush carryovers…who had no personal commitment to the goal of an early recovery, no stake in the Democratic Party, no interest in the larger success of Barack Obama.”
So when voters saw unemployment rise a lot further – there are now 5.2 million more real unemployed Americans than in December 2008 – there was no one left for the electorate to blame but Democrats.
Then the team, in this case led by Tim Geithner, let Wall Street off the hook by resisting and arguing against virtually every tough amendment to the proposed financial reform legislation. Behind his back and sometimes to his face, Geithner sabotaged the recommendations of Paul Volcker, especially his idea of barring commercial banks from indulging in heavy risk taking and proprietary trading. By letting his team win against Volcker and the likes of Rob Johnson and the Roosevelt Institute, President Obama lost his capacity to harness the justified anger of voters and gain the support of the disaffected.
In a blog I wrote back in March, I drew contrasts among: (1) President Roosevelt’s abiding commitment to workers, economic justice and a vibrant middle class that grows from the bottom up; (2) Candidate Obama’s amazing speech on July 2, 2008, to the United Steelworkers in which he said that, “The reason I’m running for President is because I don’t want to wake up one day many years from now and see that we’re still standing idly by while even more plants are shut down, and even more jobs are shipped abroad, and even more workers are denied the good benefits and decent wages they deserve”; and (3) President Obama’s seeming inattention until just this past Labor Day to actually fixing real unemployment and improving workers’ rights.
And by committing his administration to a too-small stimulus package early last year, now that John Boehner is soon to be the Speaker of the House, President Obama may have foreclosed achieving the only major remedy left to the nation to bring unemployment down and economic growth up, which is more and better-directed economic stimulus. By effectively conceding the argument over the role of government in a deeply depressed economy, the Obama economic team essentially left for now only the Fed and its imprecise quantitative easing to jumpstart the economy.
The Obama economic team also fell prey to the President’s and his most senior advisors’ belief that, in their own words, Mr. Obama won the 2008 election “because of character, not issues.” In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
The administration’s almost complete failure to connect with voters on the jobs front – despite unflinching efforts on jobs creation by Nancy Pelosi in the House and by Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and their comrades in the Senate – is just one example of voters’ disillusionment. The 2008 election was very much about “issues”, and everyone who voted in it had a strong sense of how Mr. Obama would govern and with what priorities, because his campaign promises were so precise. The story is often told of the man found weeping when Franklin Roosevelt’s funeral train went past, who when asked if he had known the President, replied, “I didn’t know him, but he knew me.” And frankly, we all thought Mr. Obama knew us.
Chris Lehane, an esteemed veteran of the Clinton White House, says that Barack Obama ran such an “aspirational campaign” that “if you were a centrist, or if you were a progressive, you projected that he was the kind of president you wanted.”
So, if your focus was health care reform, you envisioned the very precise reform that the Obama Campaign advanced, not the bill that was eventually passed. If you are gay or lesbian, you thought you had a President committed to all of your civil rights, including your right to help defend our country – instead, regarding the latter, the President called for a study of what he said he already fully understood, a study that is not even due until this coming December 1 when all the impetus in the House has shifted to the Republicans and the progressive majority in the Senate has been emasculated. And if one’s desire was to see workers have the unfettered opportunity to join unions and have their benefits and rights protected, well forget that too.
We hear from sources within the White House that the President and his closest advisors have concluded that the “electoral thrashing” we all just saw had more to do with larger economic forces and strategic decisions about health care and economic stimulus than with the particular operations of the White House. In their very own words, “it wasn’t that the White House did things wrong, but that it did the wrong things.”
How can the administration say on the one hand that it “did the wrong things” and then on the other hand exonerate itself by saying that “it wasn’t that the White House did things wrong?”
President Obama did attempt to advance some job-creation initiatives – albeit not nearly large enough or the ones I would have recommended as his first actions – and he was obstructed at every turn by Republicans, even his initiatives based on policies supported by the GOP in the past. But when the President got push back, he seemed to give up, without following the example of FDR who engaged the American people by telling them that “your government has unmistakable confidence in your ability to hear the worst without flinching and losing heart.”
A staggering 55 million voters who voted for Members of Congress in November 2008 didn’t vote for any Member in November 2010, and the critically important independent voters chose Republicans this year by a staggering 18-point margin. As I contend was also the case in 2008, the November 2010 election was again mostly about jobs and the economy – there is simply no hiding the dismal real unemployment figures, which show an unemployment rate of 18.7% (not the ‘official” figure of 9.6%), 29.9 million unemployed workers (not the ‘official’ 14.8 million figure), and a “jobs gap” of 21.9 million in order to be at full employment in real terms.
And now, because of this disaffection, come January, for only the second time in eight decades and for the first time in more than six, the House will have fewer than two hundred Democrats in it. And sadly – and ironically – the American people, who are unconvinced by vague promises of “green jobs” and even vaguer studies showing that offshoring creates two jobs in America for every one lost overseas, just rewarded the Republicans who not only opposed the stimulus but also blocked even the extension of unemployment benefits.
Yet even now, no one in the White House seems to have an economic plan or growth agenda to create these needed jobs. Nor does anyone seem able to explain and justify the President’s stimulus, health care, and financial regulation initiatives in ways that relate to workers or that eliminate the uncertainties which have been keeping American businesses ‘sitting on their [investment] wallets’.
You really do have to wonder what happened to the laser focus on the economy that Candidate Obama promised would be the hallmark of his administration. Instead, all we’ve really seen is a promise to double gross exports over the next five years, which would add a meager 2.5 million jobs (the administration’s own figure) when we need to find 22 million today and which ignores the fact that the only exports figure that really matters is net exports (namely, our balance of trade). This exports agenda of the President’s, which he described on November 5 on the eve of his post-election trip to India and elsewhere as “how we’ll create jobs, prosperity and an economy that’s built on a stronger foundation”, is so short of what’s really needed to create millions of American jobs that I want to cry again.
The point – and the ongoing problem – is the sharp contrast between FDR’s actions and Candidate-cum-President Obama’s promises and actions. President Obama needs to feel in his core what the two Roosevelts felt, and remember how to talk with angry working-class people. He needs to pursue jobs creation with the same priority, focus and determination that characterized his health care reform efforts. And then he needs to propose concrete initiatives to create jobs and rebalance incomes, whether the Republicans agree or disagree.
When he does these three things, his own promises will have turned into actions and the nation will again believe that he and his administration deeply care about and are working diligently to alleviate the plight of America’s workers and the middle class.
— Leo Hindery

Comments

64 comments on “Political Malpractice in the First Degree

  1. jollyroger says:

    Some upthread concern troll waved the new bloody shirt: “Uncertainty! Uncertainty!” It’s parallyzing impact will surely vitiate the countercyclical impact of simply injecting money at the individual level. No business can count upon demand generated by payments subject to capricious curtailment says he..
    So it was that he whom. Chomsky called our last liberal president (pace, Steve) wisely posited a GUARANTEED national income.
    It comes, then, to this.
    I miss Nixon….(The Horror, The Horror…)

    Reply

  2. Carroll says:

    Posted by Don Bacon, Nov 21 2010, 11:42AM – Link
    Obama, 2007:

    Reply

  3. DonS says:

    We are now all junkies, hooked on our various government payouts, and headed for a massive painful detox in the near future.
    ” . . . We are in a country-wide moral crisis, still pretending it is a few bad wall street bankers who are the bad guys.
    Waarren, your analysis is pretty standard libertarian fare I think. So there is little possibility that you are swayed by the argument that the situation may be salvaged in a rational way that continues to provide a modicum of social support for a population of the richest country on earth. And we don’t need to go back to the gold standard.
    Let’s face it, the US has overplayed it’s hand, and needs to retool. We agree. But it is illogical that the richest planet on earth cannot afford basic services for it’s citizens, including health and social security. What needs to change are the assumptions and systems that prevent that logical outcome from occurring.
    So in differentiating from your noting that it is not just “a few bad Wall street bankers who are the bad guys”, I would extend that: it’s a whole miserable class of blood sucking plutocrats who need their expectations restructured.

    Reply

  4. DonS says:

    “Free Pollard and the freeze will be extended another 90 days. ”
    Sort of like the Israelis, or their collaborators (who can tell the difference anymore) will just keep throwing in everything including the kitchen sink — like ‘let’s make a deal’. For what?
    Say the Israelis manage to agree to some settlement of ‘peace’, or some trial settlement, or some interim settlement, only possible, obviously, on their terms. Then what? Obama, with Clinton at his side, goes on the tube and raves about a ‘peace deal’. But by then the sellout is complete anyway.

    Reply

  5. Bart says:

    Free Pollard and the freeze will be extended another 90 days. Replacing the Friedman Unit of six months, we now have the Israeli Unit of 90 day settlement freezes.

    Reply

  6. questions says:

    Climate change denial and plagiarism?
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/11/22/922453/-USA-Today:-Key-climate-denier-report-was-plagiarized
    Kind of interesting. Wonder if it’ll have legs or not.

    Reply

  7. David Billington says:

    “I’ve read a lot of information regarding the 1930’s. And I suggest a rational conclusion is
    that FDR’s program added a lot of money to the deficit, but didn’t have a major impact on
    the economy returning to health, which didn’t happen until after WWII.” (Warren Metzler)
    Federal spending won’t restore employment but may still be useful as it was in the 1930s,
    not for the number of jobs created, but in making some needed long-term improvements.
    In the 1930s these consisted of highways and hydroelectric capacity, the latter proving
    crucial to the wartime aircraft industry and the Manhattan Project.
    New highways and hydro are not needed today, but repatriating the $800 billion we export
    every year to pay for imported energy might well be worth serious short-term investments
    in domestic energy that the private sector can’t or won’t make alone.

    Reply

  8. David Billington says:

    “Are their decisions good for Wisconsin and Ohio?” (DakotaBornKansan)
    The “high-speed rail” in the proposed Midwest regional system will only reach 90-110
    mph, less than the NY-DC Metroliners. I would like to find better ways to give people jobs
    for $800 million.
    “Keynes

    Reply

  9. Warren Metzler says:

    Well Mr. Dak./b/Kan, I see that you, without knowing me, consider my considered opinion to be equal to the waste product of male bovines, and that I consistently only collect sufficient knowledge to be dangerous. And that although I claim to have widely read, I lied and only read one book by Amity Shales. I did read her book, but I also read about 10 to 12 other books. And all point to the fact the employment of people by private businesses, which is really the definition of a solid economy, was quite depressed until after wwii.
    One author, referenced by a link of one commentator on this article, wanted me to recognize that GDP figures and US industry production indicated that the country had recovered soon after FDR’s 100 days. Failing to recognizing that most of that could have come from the deficit spending of the Federal government. Proof of this being that author’s admission that the GDP and industry production dropped precipitously right after he cut deficit spending in 1936. If those levels were due to solid businesses doing well, they wouldn’t change due to a decrease in government spending.
    You ask a very relevant question, “For pity

    Reply

  10. questions says:

    I think it’s actually “Cliffs Notes”…..
    And isn’t it interesting that when the Republicans get exactly what they want, they still don’t want it.

    Reply

  11. sdemetri says:

    DakotabornKansan, perhaps you’ve seen some version of this:
    http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2009020603/fdr-failed-myth

    Reply

  12. Don Bacon says:

    Obama on healthcare, copying Repubs
    CBS – Nov 7, 2010
    “We thought that if we shaped a bill that wasn’t that different from bills that had previously been introduced by Republicans, including a Republican governor in Massachusetts who’s now running for president. That we would be able to find some common ground there. And we just couldn’t. And that was costly partly because it created the kind of partisanship and bickering that really turns people off.”
    http://tinyurl.com/2w7r3pt

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    CliffNotes, my regular Plato source, was unavailable.

    Reply

  14. Don Bacon says:

    from SparkNotes:
    “Plato identifies political justice as harmony in a structured political body. An ideal society consists of three main classes of people

    Reply

  15. Don Bacon says:

    Krugman, today: (excerpts quoted)
    What actually happened was that during the interregnum between the 1932 election and the1933 inauguration

    Reply

  16. questions says:

    Nope!
    Plato believed no such thing at all. He tells a story full of stories, from port cities and fathers and sons to friends and enemies and debts to wool dyeing and ships of fools, to the sun and line and cave and the Myth of Er. He tells multiple stories about child rearing and education, about desires for couches and pastries, about taking children to the battlefield and giving them “wings!” I’m sure I’m leaving our many more….
    And what we find with all the stories is that they are just stories. There’s no real city, no real control of people.
    We think Thrasymachus is the enemy til the very end when we learn that it’s the mild-manned Cepahlus gonna get us and eat us in the end.
    We really don’t know our friends and enemies. We really don’t know what to value. We really don’t see well how the abstract largeness we generate in systems comes from our very own particular actions.
    And the real story of the Republic is that there is something very abstract, very difficult to understand going on, and given that this THING is something we cannot specify, the best we can do is control our own desires and study, study, study in the hopes that we tell better stories to one another.
    There is no kallipolis, there is no “strict caste-like structure” (which isn’t caste-like anyway as it is meritocratic, not genetic or familial).
    The Republic is a thought experiment, and the real finding is that we have a hard time with human desire, with thinking that what we think is what we know, with confusing opinion (even correct) and knowledge.
    We operate at the level of the concrete and the opinion and the desire. We need to turn our souls as it were towards the abstract, the true, and the rational.
    Not a bad message when you get down to it.
    And with this in mind, re-read Obama and see if he seems a little more, I dunno, rational and well-oriented instead of maybe “truthy” and desire-oriented.
    If Obama can stick it out, maybe there’s some hope that we can re-align our social preferences away from the desire-monsters of our psyches. We don’t do it well alone, but with institutional support (ha ha ha, that’s what Cephalus has!) maybe we can do just a bit better for another cycle of history.

    Reply

  17. DonS says:

    . . . Pollard
    Attempting to tie clemency for Pollard to the peace process is blackmail and an outrage of proportion, even assuming the bright idea (lead by Frank) came from the desk of Netanyahu and his collaborators in the US.
    One would think it was us, the US, who was attempting to garner favor from Israel with this brazen proposal, whereas it is Israel who should be begging, not seeking quid pro quo for some puny “concession” on the 90 day freeze.
    It is undoubtedly true that US security is tied in some degree to getting a deal in the ME. But to the extent it is true, the US should be pressuring Israel to cooperate, not looking for cray, minute points of leverage to bribe the totally unrecalcitrant and untrustworty Israelis.
    Really, what’s next? Sleepovers in the Lincoln bedroom for the Knesset and as many settlers as they care to bring along?

    Reply

  18. Don Bacon says:

    since questions is here:
    Plato believed that the perfect society would be small, and could be regulated so as to make overall wealth relatively even. The citizens would also be regulated into a strict caste-type structure, where one’s intelligence and ability would determine where one would end up at in the society.

    Reply

  19. Don Bacon says:

    Krugman’s wrong. It’s not like the ’30’s as I described above.

    Reply

  20. Don Bacon says:

    Part of Obama’s problem is simply his failure to keep campaign promises. His financial, military and health care policies were largely fashioned in secret without public input.
    James Galbraith: “the original sin of Obama’s presidency was to assign economic policy to a closed circle of bank-friendly economists and Bush carryovers..
    news report Nov 2009:
    It is difficult to imagine what is more outrageous when it comes to the government

    Reply

  21. DakotabornKansan says:

    “This is not your father’s recession; this is your grandfather’s recession. That’s what’s extremely frightening, because your grandfather’s recession was the Great Depression.” – Paul Krugman

    Reply

  22. questions says:

    “smart enough to find our place” — well, some of the smartest people in the room are the quants out of MIT. (Do they come from anywhere else? Princeton produces Wall Streeters, but are they quants?)
    What do you do when you’re brilliant, you see patterns where others don’t. You love math, but you don’t want to earn 35 grand teaching 5th graders about “x” and “perimeters”….
    The funny thing about MIT is that they are pushing appropriate technology development even as they supply the work force that destroyed our economy.
    In Greek, the word “pharmakon” is medicine/drug/cure on the one hand and poison on the other. This word captures a lot of our choices in dealing with the mess that our “heroes” of the past decade or two have brought us.
    Socrates reminds us that doing anything without virtue is, well, not virtuous. It’s not skills we want, but skilled virtue and virtuous skills.
    The problems we face in terms of dislocated brilliance, self-serving individuals who see local patterns but refuse to see the global ones they fit into, who worry about their own freedom and expressivity but who don’t really think about what happens on the other side of the tracks, these problems will defeat us in the end. We will eat our own children, despite thinking we are having fun.
    It’s not our fathers’ recession indeed.

    Reply

  23. DakotabornKansan says:

    FDR, Reagan, and Obama
    Paul Krugman recalls

    Reply

  24. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican, Nov 21 2010, 10:43AM – Link
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    LOL..the dems just lost more voters with this. The letter must be under lock and key because no one has been able to find a copy to find out who the 39 dems are. They might get a lot of jewish money out of it for the Dems but it’s gonna cost them a lot of votes.
    JPost.comInternational
    Congressional letter urges Obama to release Pollard
    By JTA
    11/19/2010 08:18
    Letter signed by 39 Democrats says Pollard “has served a sufficient time from standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.
    A congressional letter to President Obama urging clemency for Jonathan
    Pollard garnered 39 signatures, all Democrats.
    In comments at a press conference late Thursday, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)
    said he initiated the letter, written in coordination with a broad array of
    Jewish groups, mostly out of humanitarian concerns for the convicted Israeli
    spy, imprisoned 25 years, but also as a spur in the peace process.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in the past said that
    releasing Pollard would help secure support for concessions in peace talks
    with the Palestinians.
    Frank said he tried hard to solicit Republican signatories, but was turned
    down even by the most sympathetic GOP lawmakers for fear of political
    blowback from the Republican base.
    “The current nature of the Republican party is that this is not the thing to
    do,” he said.
    Frank did not elaborate but Jewish officials speaking off the record
    confirmed his efforts and said that national security sensibilities among
    some Republican officials have hindered efforts to garner support.

    Reply

  25. DonS says:

    And further to Obama’s miscalculations or misleadings:
    Obama seems convinced that the American people are sick of politics of partisan gridlock; sick of politicians in general. Well, duh, aren’t we all? But regardless of the process, Americans want results. Obama’s way ain’t getting results. Time to can the fixation on fixing politics, and work for results.

    Reply

  26. DonS says:

    Leo Hindery’s post rings accurate and unadorned. Obama is becoming a tragedy of the first order. Are folks over at the White house reading this sort of analysis and making off color jokes about second guessing and the naivte of the rubes to politics in the ‘real world’? Does Obama share in those jokes, or does he sit over in the corner of the family quarters musing about how misunderstood he is; how misguided his critics, former supporters, are?
    So Obama et al think 2008 was about character, not issues, as Hindery reports. Well due to the massive misfeasance and political ‘malpractice’ of Obama and his band of technocrats, the meager possibility that the economic disaster can be brought under control (Don Bacon’s riff on corporate hegemony notwithstanding) will, it seems, at this point be almost wholly dependent on whether Obama does indeed have great character; and whether he can find it in himself to overcome the hubris that would defend failed policies and processes rather than massively bootstrap his own inadequate performance.
    Obama’s continued assertion of needing to find a bipartisan way — doubling down on his mistake from day one of seeking to coopt the likes of a Rick Warren — shows he is still staggering like a drunk man through the ruins of the past two years. Two years for which he is ultimately responsible. The half measures and unimpressive statistics and excuses Obama et al desperately cite, smell like a continued cover up.
    FDR came to office with a hefty degree of noblesse oblige, which served the country well. Obama comes with a seriously conflicted characterlogical make up. FDR still had to draw on deep personal strength to fight for what he felt was right for the American people, not for the bankers and power brokers. Obama must find the personal strength to overcome his own deficits that have bridled him to the bankers and power brokers. The American people have great need now as in the 30’s. Obama seems conflicted even whether to internalize that actual need or give it mere lip service.
    As in all affairs, actions are what ultimately count. Not words.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I see now that a release of Pollard is now another part of the “trade off” that the Israeli puppet masters are demanding of Washington. All for a ninety day freeze. Of course, this witch Hillary is probably working with Netanyahu, behind closed doors, dreaming up a grocery list of demands Israel can throw at Washington.
    Its certainly entertaining watching the Clinton adorers picking this “deal” apart while leaving Clinton out of the narrative, as if she is not involved in this epic sell-out to the Israelis. Go look at Taylor Marsh’s site. Whole essays devoted to how Washington is acting like Israel’s puppet, yet nary a mention of Hillary’s role in the scheme of things.
    I remember Steve giving us one of his “more later” heads up a coupla months ago on Hillary. Apparently Steve has decided its not worth the risk he takes should he criticize the Queen of Israel.

    Reply

  28. Don Bacon says:

    Again, the US economy isn’t in your father’s recession. It has some basic faults as a result of over-consumption and the global economy, factors that didn’t exist in the 1930’s. It’s not possible to balance an economy that largely depends upon cheap foreign labor to produce its goods.
    There are other differences. Trillions of electronic dollars flow into and out of nations every day. On may 6, 2010 the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 1000 points in ten minutes, wiping out $1 trillion in equity values as algorithmic trading by high-speed computers spun out of control.
    Contrary to Galbraith, market forces have largely replaced governments in the functions of governance. The inability of world leaders to address currency problems was recently on display. It was a nice photo-op of world leaders in Seoul, but we know who’s really in charge.
    Corporations are able to spread their operations all over the world to take advantage of raw material and labor availability and tax laws. As noted above GE pays no US taxes.
    summary of difference from 1930’s:
    * global economy, US consumes but doesn’t produce
    * velocity of money transfer
    * corporate strength
    We need people who are smart enough to find our place in the world because the old liberal refrain of more government spending isn’t the answer to economic problems.

    Reply

  29. DakotabornKansan says:

    The deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent.
    Warren Metzler has read a lot of information regarding the 1930’s.

    Reply

  30. Don Bacon says:

    Remember Obama as FDR?
    “The New New Deal”
    TIME cover Nov 24, 2008
    http://tinyurl.com/5wugrt

    Reply

  31. Warren Metzler says:

    I’ve read a lot of information regarding the 1930’s. And I suggest a rational conclusion is that FDR’s program added a lot of money to the deficit, but didn’t have a major impact on the economy returning to health, which didn’t happen until after WWII. So I object to the idea there is a smidgen of evidence that government stimulus benefits an economy. Lots of people gets short term income support, but no business becomes more successful because of a government handout.
    Would you give Gerry Nadler an important job at a company you owned? I certainly wouldn’t.
    Just think of it realistically. A business grows bigger by offering valuable products, and the more it increases, the more employees it hires. How is the world is that process going to facilitated by the government handing out some cash? Government stimulus is an outgrown of a socialist / communist mindset; let Mommy and Daddy take care of us; it is not a view actually demonstrated to work.
    I defy you to read Keynes book and not conclude he repeatedly spouted concepts without a shred of evidence to substantiate them. But he certainly won’t be the last academic lauded for views that never once work.
    GM. If it had been left to dissolve, the resultant businesses may very well be doing better then now.
    Our latest recession. I suggest that government de-regulation didn’t create this recession. It was the result of immoral behaviors on a massive scale by much of our society.
    Individuals got very greedy, and took out mortgages it was highly unlikely they would ever repay. Bankers got very greedy and totally discarded good banking practices that had sustained them for centuries. Investment banks got very greedy and started to make investments in bets, giving up centuries of providing financing for real businesses to grew.
    Bank bailouts. It was obviously fraud. Obama gave back in exchange for all that money he was given. How to you think Clinton made that hundred million in six years after leaving the White House? Giving speeches at several hundred thousand a pop and directorships on corporate boards. Pay back for many years of him ensuring corporations and individual got good deals from the Federal government spending. Graft without proven corruption.
    Same with Tony Blair. Bush promises him a wealthy retirement, and boy is he now cashing in (he and Shari just bought a grand close to 5 million pound house in London), and Tony delivered England to the war in Iraq, and never strayed from the Bush line for his entire prime minister gig.
    All politicians are corrupt; all are holding the bag for someone. It is time we re-read the Federalist Papers, and remember this country was founded on the premise that government was just responsible for administering the necessary infrastructure of this country. It was not at all perceived as responsible for solving the personal and business problems of the citizens.

    Reply

  32. nadine says:

    “Another Obama gauntlet, or more mush from the wimp?
    Obama is

    Reply

  33. Dan Kervick says:

    So you’re a Stiglitz fan, Don? Coulda fooled me.

    Reply

  34. DakotabornKansan says:

    “Let

    Reply

  35. Don Bacon says:

    Currently there are experts, both Rs and Ds, saying that Obama was too liberal. That’s why the midterms were bad for the donkeys, It was a referendum on a too-liberal Obama, the story goes, so Obama needs to come back to the center. Even Obama has been suggesting the same, saying the problem was one of imaging and not one of policy.
    But Hindery suggests the truth:
    James Galbraith: “. . .the original sin of Obama’s presidency was to assign economic policy to a closed circle of bank-friendly economists and Bush carryovers…who had no personal commitment to the goal of an early recovery, no stake in the Democratic Party,. .”
    Not progressive at all.
    So the fact is that Dem election losses weren’t because Obama was too liberal but that he was too close to Wall Street. Retaining Bush’s military gang, super-sizing the AfPak war and keeping tens of thousands of troops in Iraq didn’t help either.

    Reply

  36. DakotabornKansan says:

    Another Obama gauntlet, or more mush from the wimp?
    Obama is

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “As for going green, that too is a policy in many states (not all) especially California which has a goal of 33% green power generation by 2010. Job creation from green power? Not much”
    The wind farms around Tehachapi are growing exponentially. The turbines are getting huge to the degree that it is impossible to describe. When one looks at these new turbines on their towers, its almost impossible to visually gauge the size unless there is something next to it to give scale to the image, like a truck or crane.
    But point being, I know quite a few people employed by the companies making the turbines, transporting them, installing them, maintaining them, reopairing them, and monitoring them. Thats just the mechanical side of things. Then you have the energy companies running the wind farms that number in the thousand of turbines in this area alone.
    So there IS an argument to be made for “green jobs”, and in some areas green jobs ARE thriving.

    Reply

  38. DakotabornKansan says:

    WigWag

    Reply

  39. DakotabornKansan says:
  40. Don Bacon says:

    With Washington stymied and more Repubs at the state level the initiative on the economy will shift somewhat to the states, although state governors (29 are now Repub) are limited by having to balance budgets, unlike Washington.
    As for going green, that too is a policy in many states (not all) especially California which has a goal of 33% green power generation by 2010. Job creation from green power? Not much.

    Reply

  41. DonS says:

    In one of the things Don B referenced on another thread was the DKos memo which included the sentimental paean of Obama to his Illinois mentor, bolstering Obama’s now famous mantra “We can disagree without being disagreeable”.
    Sounds real nice, huh, and maybe churlish of me to bring it up, what with the rethugs being so, well, disagreeable. But it brings me in mind of an even more apropos notion, maybe even one that trumps Obama’s solopism: you can’t have a relationship without a partner. Somehow this has eluded the very intelligent Mr. Obama.
    Meanwhile, the next two years look like good soap material, and a pretty serious dead zone for taking care of the business that needs doing. Lot’s of time for tapping those deep pockets and raise campaign cash.
    Meanwhile, I’m waiting for Steve to crack more heads on the START treaty (Obama’s sure not going to do it) since the first shot got the t-baggers so worked up.

    Reply

  42. samuelburke says:

    Leaked Spanish Report: Obama

    Reply

  43. DakotabornKansan says:
  44. Carroll says:

    “….the American people, who are unconvinced by vague promises of “green jobs” and even vaguer studies showing that offshoring creates two jobs in America for every one lost overseas, just rewarded the Republicans who not only opposed the stimulus but also blocked even the extension of unemployment benefits.”
    Where are those two jobs in America for every one that was offshored?…anyone seen them?
    I don’t know exactly what the employment situation is in my area but from general observation it must be bad cause even all the Mexicans that use to work around here have disappeared.
    I think Hillary will run for prez again and it may that turning the State Dept into an extension of Netanyahu and AIPAC is her collecting chits for that run.

    Reply

  45. Don Bacon says:

    news report:
    NEW YORK — For at least the fourth time since June, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke publicly urged Congress to combat the lackluster recovery by increasing government spending, a recommendation that has gone unheeded by lawmakers. //(end)
    The point I’m trying to make is that a “recovery” driven by more government spending isn’t the answer. Fundamental changes are required.
    For two things, free enterprise is being strangled while large corporations are allowed to be predators.
    from WaPo, By Morris Panner, entrepreneur (excerpts):
    “The combined expenditures of federal, state and local government are rapidly taking over our economy. At the beginning of President Obama’s term, government spending made up 35 percent of gross domestic product. Now, it is up to almost 45 percent,
    “The two largest pieces of legislation enacted in the past two years – health care and financial reform – are very vague. . .unelected regulators will decide almost everything about how the organization works.
    “For a preview of what a complex regulatory process looks like, consider our tax system. The World Bank ranks the United States 62nd in the world in terms of how easy it is to pay taxes – and with a 16,000-page tax code, this is no surprise. In 2009 and 2010, Capital Tax Partners, a leading lobbyist representing Goldman Sachs, Apple and others, earned about $20 million in fees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
    “From an entrepreneur’s perspective, we need a national campaign to create transparency in our legislation and a national moratorium on the creation of commissions, regulators and czars. It is time for Congress to do the hard job of saying what lawmakers mean in clear and easy-to-understand language.”//(end)
    from FDL, by masaccio:
    “[GE] paid exactly $0 in US taxes last year, despite reporting $11.2 billion in net earnings on revenues of $156.8 billion. GE claimed to lose $498 million in the US. It claimed to make $10.8 billion overseas [where tax rates are less].”

    Reply

  46. questions says:

    Not, Don Bacon, Reagan’s policies — Reagan’s mastery of zeitgeist and rhetoric. And yes, that really was an era. The whole country shifted in what it thought was moral and what the role of government was.
    A new shift might move us towards something like seeing the value of common purpose, realizing that many categories of humanity deserve to be extended the chance to exert rights, realizing that selfish purpose followed blindly leads us to bubbles and crashes.
    There has been a slow but inexorable creep towards a kind of individualism that thinks it’s found freedom without really understanding what it has bound itself to.
    Reaganite freedom made us captive to the workings of capital, to the fear of the commie other, to a sense that we should always have an expanded military.
    Clinton added the “freedoms” of no longer worrying about the welfare of those whose poverty supports the system, and of no longer worrying about financial slavery in the form of regulation of the derivatives market.
    Bush gave us freedom from the tax code, and the freedom to worry about being blown to smithereens.
    Against these wonderful freedoms we’ve quite gotten used to, what’s a president to do?
    To re-regulate, re-tax, re-benefit, restore progressivity in the workings of our financial system, to rechain us all together as one people is to undo a lot of “freedom” we’ve come to know and love.
    So tell me, how does one president, with only partial support from the Senate, with no support from a chunk of his own party, with the complete enmity of a chunk of the media, with multiple and simultaneous emergencies — how does one president transform a la Reagan?
    Transformation, indeed, is what we need.
    But it’s not what we’re ready for, apparently.
    Look towards New Jersey to see our future. There’s the guy who speaks the zeitgeist. Lower taxes, teacher bashing, public servant-bashing, no transit modernization, love of the billionaire boys’ club…. Christ-incarnate.
    (As opposed to Obama’s ever forgiving, other cheek turning, renewing of humanity “Hussein-ness”…… It’s too ironic for direct speech.)
    Probably, though, we should all take a deep breath and see what happens over the next little while. If DADT goes via congressional vote, then that’ll be a significant victory. If the economy isn’t totally squelched by Republican misdeeds, that’ll be another. If Arne Duncan finds a new line of work, or if enough states adopt national standards and then Arne Duncan finds a new line of work, that’ll be something.
    If someone thinks of some great service or artistic endeavor that we all need to participate in, then maybe there will be a growth industry somewhere.
    And if extend and pretend works long enough, MERS and the fraud to cover the fraud…will cease to be a problem as well.
    Until capital flows freely with future-oriented security, we’re not budging, though.
    Anyone wanna invent, say, Pet Rocks? Or Beanie Babies? Can we move the entire economy based on those? Beanie Rocks? Solar Beanie Rocks? Natural gas-powered, solar back up roof tile scallopers? Makes the roof edging look like a 1950s dress hem….. Everyone’s gotta get one!

    Reply

  47. Dan Kervick says:

    Since James Galbraith’s name came up, I thought this would be a good time to celebrate his testimony back in June to the Committee on Deficit Reduction:
    http://www.newdeal20.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/deficitcommissionrv.pdf

    Reply

  48. Don Bacon says:

    Obama like his senate mentor Lieberman was an admirer of Reagan not FDR.
    Obama: “I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn’t much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people, he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

    Reply

  49. DakotabornKansan says:

    Why did Obama called FDR “irresponsible?” Is Obama a secret Tea-Bagger at heart?
    Leo Hindery omits Obama

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Wig (or) wag, (who knows which?).
    When every one of your opinions or comments is based upon a partisan agenda, designed to assign “blame” that you believe advances your agenda, where are we to find credibility????
    You and Nadine are alike, in that your agenda has drained you of trustworthiness. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t even read your crap anymore. You shit this stuff out by rote.

    Reply

  51. Don Bacon says:

    Hindery wrote a book in 2005: “It Takes a CEO: It’s Time to Lead with Integrity” in which he promoted increased corporate responsibility, consideration of employees and communities in corporate management, increased government regulation of corporations and more financial consideration of employees vice management. That’s a start.

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    Excuse me, but didn’t Leo Hindery support Barack Obama’s presidential bid? Didn’t he back Obama’s effort to win the Democratic nomination? Didn’t he lobby (through his friend Steve Clemons in the pages of the Washington Note)for a job in the Obama Administration?
    Didn’t Hindery max out on his contribution to Obama when he made a $2,300 contribution to his presidential campaign dated March 20, 2007 (he also contributed $2,300 to Hillary Clinton on February 23, 2007)? If Hindery is so smart and Obama is so bad, why didn’t Hindery figure this out before he contributed to his presidential bid?
    Didn’t Leo Hindery work in partnership with Goldman Sachs when he ran the YES Network? Didn’t he make millions along with his friends at Goldman when they partly cashed out of the Yes network?
    It looks like Hindery is happy to criticize his friends on Wall Street when it comes to financial reform but isn’t so passionate about the subject when it comes to partnering with them to generate millions in profit for himself and for them.
    With all do respect, does Hindery come to this debate with clean hands?

    Reply

  53. questions says:

    Here’s another round of thinking in my brain — if money comes as relief directly to the working class, or unemployed class as it were, what happens to that money?
    Clearly it’s spent instantly. People pay down debt, pay the landlord, make a mortgage payment, buy groceries….
    BUT what doesn’t really change is the sense of the flow of money.
    If a store keeper or corporation senses the general iffiness of the economy, a few months worth of somewhat better sales doesn’t really convince that person to hire more. Indeed the best thing to do is first to squeeze more productivity out of the current workers, and second to calculate just how much a little additional profitability is worth compared to the pared down workforce.
    So the direct distribution of money to the bottom of the economy, it seems to me, is of limited usefulness given how people respond when things don’t “feel” right.
    A more comprehensive system of roll outs of projects at differing levels of complexity and on different timelines might help. Emergency payouts to stave off the devil, secondary and tertiary projects to do encourage some minimal hiring or non-firing, system-wide support beams under the larger sectors of the economy (financial and automotive, say), and some support for the states that are stuck with balanced budgets.
    A lot of this is precisely what Obama has tried to do. And a lot of this is what people seem to object to from a variety of directions.
    The bubble infected the entire economy because it hit real estate (which EVERYone has at least tangential relations with — we all live somewhere), and it hit the sector that underpins the entire economy (credit, financials, banking). If the supports are collapsing, you don’t try to build on them until you’ve added some jackposts.
    And after the jackposts are in place, you still need to build slowly and systematically on top. And you need a lot of psychic work on the people above the jackposts.
    We relate to our money in profoundly emotional ways. Money is our soul, our food, our homes, our measure of ourselves, money is us.
    So, again, what’s a president to do?
    If he ignores or punishes the financial sector to make us all feel better morally (which we would, let’s face it), he is simultaneously undermining the jackposts of the economy. Dumbfuck move, even if satisfying.
    If he pays the banksters, they get away with a lot of shit (not good), but maybe they don’t take the ball home with them and the rest of us will eventually get to play again.
    Once we’re playing again, we need to creep up the tax rates a little at a time so that we unskew the wealth distribution in this country.
    It’s a bad bad bad plan to have masses with no stake in the system, and every dumbfuck oligarch should know this already.
    It’s so sad that Plato and Aristotle had this stuff figured out a couple thousand years ago (Socrates was put to death in 399 BC) and we still can’t get it right.
    Keep your desires in check, your craft is at the service of the other and not in the service of your own profit, and the state of your soul matters far more than you realize.
    The guy who’s fated to eat his own children is the one who is good by habit, doesn’t really know anything about anything, doesn’t think, has a stable political system, likes money well enough, makes a good living, and doesn’t know what’s at stake when he makes decisions. Sounds a whole lot like our political system right about now.
    All those Tea Partiers who think they have “freedom” figured out are in for a rude surprise one of these days.
    And those who think that rebalancing the economy is a straightforward proposition are deluded.

    Reply

  54. Don Bacon says:

    There’s no doubt that financial chicanery and presidential compliance and nonperformance contributed to unemployment (I notice Dean Baker claims that “25 million people are unemployed, underemployed”). But the basic structural problems remain in the US economy and particularly in the relationship of corporations to government and people.

    Reply

  55. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Don’t over complicate what this piece of shit Obama was, and is.
    He was an empty slate, perfect for creating the kind of human facade that was guaranteed to appeal to a pissed off and disillusioned American populace. As I screamed from the rooftops during the epic con-job leading to his placement in the Oval Office, he was utterly and completely a media construct, no more real than the characters in an episode of Star Trek.
    As each passing year goes by, I am further amazed by the gullibility and naivette of the American people. Despite GLARING evidence that we barely resemble what we claim to be, we continue to wave the flag of patriotism, egged on by media fantasies and the myth of representation. Do you feel “represented” by these fucking pieces of shit? Is there anyone that the media parades in front of our faces as our “key leaders” that you respect or feel are sincerely working in your best interests???
    The actual policy deviations from what we purport ourselves to be come so frequently now that its actually impossible to keep track. One political or policy transgression after another that belies the claim of “representation” that these sacks of shit would have us believe in. We are becoming inured to it, to the degree that we are rendered impotent to react. It snowballs as a result, as these megalomanics in DC discover that the only mechanism of accountability is political vengeance, and as long as you go along to get along, you can get away with ANYTHING without fear of legal reprisal. If the people can’t, or won’t, hold them accountable, who will? Themselves??? Hows THAT working out for us?

    Reply

  56. Don Bacon says:

    As Daniel Drezner points out (tangentially speaking):
    ” …what makes the zombie genre interesting has less to do with the ghouls themselves than with how humans respond to them. The zombies in Night of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead are exactly the same — it’s the human responses that evoke such different responses to those films.
    “Sure, it’s quick and easy to label one’s political opponents as brain-dead zombies — what’s intriguing is how one responds to that possibility.” http://tinyurl.com/2a6got6

    Reply

  57. Bob Morris says:

    Charles Gasparino’s new book is illuminating. He
    details how Obama was backed early and with big
    money by the investment banks. Hillary was too
    independent and McCain literally told them to go
    $%^& themselves. But Obama had no such qualms.
    The book also shows how both parties played major
    roles in policy decisions that led to the subprime
    bubble and subsequent recession.
    “Bought and Paid For. The Unholy Alliance between
    Barack Obama and wall Street” is the title.

    Reply

  58. Don Bacon says:

    Solutions CAN’T start with leadership from a non-leader — that’s the point. So it’s up to others, including our elected representatives, think-tankers, and us.
    Besides, who needs a leader anyhow. We should have learned by now that the abilities of US presidents are, ahem, limited, even beyond forced resignations and impeachments.

    Reply

  59. JohnH says:

    “We need not more complaints but solutions…”
    But solutions start with leadership. Instead of leading, Obama seems content with being the “Undecider.” Or worse. Ringer and poser are not strong enough. Perhaps Obama will soon become an adjective–a person who tries to appear to be the exact opposite of what he is: the faux “community organizer” who is just another eager tool of billionaires, defense contractors, Wall Street and Big Pharma. In other words, a GWB without the pedigree and with considerable more polish.

    Reply

  60. questions says:

    What about re-looking with some notion of time lines in place…..
    Health care reform, in the future, will make it easier to employ people. We need to sever the relationship between employment and health insurance so that the benefit package doesn’t stand in the way of hiring people.
    (And more fundamentally, we need to know that businesses aren’t really in the business of hiring people just to hire people. They’re in the business of firing people to save money and find a good equilibrium between payroll and profits. This is not the stuff of full employment.)
    People don’t want to give up the perks they have, and the health industry has limited tolerance for change.
    What we got is the beginning of what I personally hope is a huge shift in how health care is paid for and delivered.
    If it’s cheaper to hire, businesses might hire again one day.
    We have, now, international markets for many goods and services we did not used to have. Our wages can stay high only if we isolate ourselves from world production. If our wages are higher, so are our prices. If we are isolated from other economies rather than integrated, we might be more likely to end up in conflict as we don’t depend on other nations.
    Poor people need low prices and higher wages. This is a difficult duo to satisfy at the same time. Unless we limit profits. Good luck with that.
    The banksters have more power than this piece seems to indicate. It’s almost as if, in this piece, there’s some assumption that had Obama waved a magic wand, we’d have an instant tax on financial transactions, we’d have the billionaire boys’ club begging for higher taxes, we’d have investment that doesn’t have a reasonable guarantee of a payback, we wouldn’t have pushback by the moneyed set.
    In fact, oligarchies don’t like to give up power. And only, what is it, 47, of our billionaires signed a letter asking for higher taxes.
    Obama went after health care because its costs underpin just about everything else.
    Obama supported Geithner’s guys because these people know what they’re dealing with, and because if the billionaire boys’ club is overly unhappy, they can make the rest of us far more miserable by shutting down the flow of capital even more.
    We had massive corruption, delusions of wealth, policy based on non-existent wealth, a war based on non-existent weapons, and we’re just supposed to poof! it away and build us some bridges…..
    Infrastructure does need building and refurbishing. That’s a long long term project subject to local whims, zoning laws, and lots of planning.
    The kinds of short term labor intensive things Obama tried for, like paying for more school teachers, were a good idea. Except that many states hoarded the money instead of spending it.
    What’s a president supposed to do?
    There’s a fundamental tension between states that have to balance their budgets because of constitutional demands, and the Feds who look at things differently. Anything the feds try to spend on, the states undo. Check out Christie’s trains and is it Wisconsin as well? Check out Perry’s cutbacks in Texas, and the hideous nightmare that’s brewing in Arizona — where they are condemning to death Medicaid transplant patients.
    Obama can’t wave a magic want and make any of these people become job creators. The Republican ideological commitment to privatized pain and its concomitant “freedom” is likely insurmountable.
    We made a mess, we re-elected the main mess-makers, and now we’re re-re-elected those same mess makers all over again.
    Maybe we just like our messes?

    Reply

  61. Don Bacon says:

    This is simply another diatribe that:
    1. We shouldn’t have trusted Obama (we knew that)
    2. Obama should have made better decisions (see 1.)
    3. The US should have “increased the stimulus” and “created more jobs” in 2009.
    We can’t do anything about #1. & 2. We’re stuck with the guy. We discovered that the new “Decider” didn’t decide very well, which is not only a reflection on him but also on us — who needs a Decider?
    So let’s focus on #3.
    The US economy isn’t in your father’s recession. It has some basic faults. Americans have become fat (literally) living on credit, on increasing housing prices and on cheap foreign labor. Also the US government has sold the US worker down the river by catering to corporations to increase productivity and profits through job loss.
    The chickens have come home to roost.
    The result is not 5 million unemployed, it is more like 15 million. There are 239 million adults 16+, 154 million of these are in the labor force and 139 million have jobs. There are millions more (of the 239 million) who have become discouraged, or are underemployed, or who work under the table.
    The answer to these basic faults is not now, and was not in 2009, to throw tons of “stimulus” money at construction projects, not least of all because the supposed “shovel-ready” projects weren’t actually ready. They required more planning and permitting.
    Another reason is that all the unemployed don’t cherish doing pick n’ shovel or work at ten bucks an hour. The fifteen million obviously aren’t even able to work construction, and anyhow the annual cost would be $300 billion if they could work construction. That’s not a permanent fix.
    Bottom line: People smarter than me at these think-tanks should stop leaning on the under-performing “Decider” Obama and his too-low “stimulus” and come up with more realistic, more practical remedies for US job loss in this global economy.
    We need not more complaints but solutions that can help not only the 15 million statistically unemployed but the older and minority people who have given up, and the young people coming into the jobless labor force, who don’t show up in any unemployment figures.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *