Archive for Economy
Pope Francis last week issued Evangelii Gaudium, or Joy of the Gospel, an “apostolic exhortation.” Less than an encyclical on church doctrine, Evangelii Gaudium nonetheless stamps papal authority across Francis’ recent speeches. The National Catholic Reporter likened it to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
For conservative pundits it’s more of a nightmare:
Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. 
Commenters looking for moral wiggle room at Free Republic debated the accuracy of the translation — not of the whole document, just the passage above. A National Review critic argued that nobody said markets were sufficient to bring down poverty. Still, people working sweat shop jobs in developing nations are less impoverished. Those who lost jobs in this hemisphere? Well, those are the breaks.
Wisconsin and Minnesota provide a nice side-by-side comparison of Republican and Democratic economic policies in action. They’re next door to each other and share similar demographics.
Three years into [GOP Gov. Scott] Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.
Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business. Republicans deserve some of the credit, particularly for their commitment to education reform. They also argue that Minnesota’s new growth stems from the low taxes and reduced spending under Mr. Dayton’s Republican predecessor, [GOP Gov. Tim] Pawlenty. But Minnesota’s job growth was subpar during Mr. Pawlenty’s eight-year tenure and recovered only under [Democratic Gov. Mark] Dayton.
It is a little early to assess NC Gov. Pat McCrory. In spite of McCrory’s and the NCGOP’s refrain that the state is “broken” owing to one hundred years of Democratic dominance, North Caroilna consistently ranks as one of the top ten best states to do business. But it has lost ground since last year on one survery, falling from first place to second behind Georgia. This, of course, leaves McCrory with not much of anywhere to go except down.
“America’s descending into madness,” writes Henry Giroux in his latest book. The author appeared on Bill Moyer’s program Friday as the nation observed the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Since the Reagan-Thatcher era, Kennedy’s calls to public service and national aspiration have been systematically supplanted with an ethos of radical self-interest and tawdry appeals to men’s basest instincts. It is a world, Giroux asserts, in which elites consider that “survival of the fittest is all that matters” and that “democracy is an excess.” Giroux is appalled.
… the notion that profit making is the essence of democracy, the notion that economics is divorced from ethics, the notion that the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism, the notion that the welfare state is a pathology, that any form of dependency basically is disreputable and needs to be attacked, I mean, this is a vicious set of assumptions.
Denialism is the go-to strategy for Republicans these days. If you confront a problem where facts are not on your side, simply deny the facts. Examples abound but one of my favorites was UnSkewedPolls.com. Polls showing President Obama ahead of Mitt Romney had to be wrong, or skewed. So Dean Chambers did some “analysis” and came up with a different set of “facts”. On Election night, the shock and awe on Republican faces including the candidate himself told the story of just how many people believed the “un”skewed polls.
Recent events have the Republicans butting up against a fact they just can’t live with. If we don’t fund the government and let it borrow more money we will be unable to pay our obligations which will trigger a default. This will have a chilling effect in world capital markets and would probably plunge us into a recession worse than the one we just went through. But none of this is a problem if you just don’t believe it’s true. Until it is true. President Romney can tell you how it works.
Now we have the Treasury Truthers.
“There’s always revenue coming into the Treasury, certainly enough revenue to pay interest,” said Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich. “Democrats have a different definition of ‘default’ than what we understand it to be. What I hear from them is, ‘If you’re not paying everything on time that’s a default.’ And that’s not the traditionally understood definition.”
Representative Mick Mulvaney, R-South Carolina:
“We’re not going to default; there is no default,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. “There’s an [Office of Management and Budget] directive from the 1980s, the last time we got fairly close to not raising the debt ceiling, that clearly lays out the process by which the Treasury secretary prioritizes interest payments. Tim Geithner understood that, because the last weekend in July of 2011 he was in New York City telling the primary dealers that we were not going to default on our debt.”
“I’m not going to vote for the so-called clean debt ceiling where we just give the president a blank check. I will not vote for that.”
“So, we are not going to default on the public debt. But that doesn’t mean that we have to pay every bill the day it comes in.”
“I will hear language like, ‘Well, we are heading toward the debt ceiling and you are going to default.’ Anyone that says that is looking you in the eyes and lying to you, either that or they don’t own a calculator,” Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., said in a House debate Friday.
“I don’t think the credit of the United States is going to be collapsed. I think that all this talk about a default has been a lot of… false demagoguery. We have plenty of money coming in to service the debt.”
“I think, personally, [not raising the debt ceiling] would bring stability to the world markets.”
The Barton quote is unsurprisingly a double whammy. Raising the debt limit doesn’t give the President a blank check. Instead it allows the government to operate at the level authorized by Congress. Of course, this is from the guy who apologized to BP after the Gulf spill.
Matt Yglesias makes a good point.
Stepping back a little, I’d also note that House Republicans can’t have it both ways here. Either the debt ceiling is a major leverage point to extract concessions from the president, or else it’s no big deal. If it’s no big deal, there’s no leverage. If there’s leverage, then it’s because failing to raise the debt ceiling would be very damaging.
From Think Progress:
Emergency food pantries say they will have to do more with less, thanks to the government shutdown. Food banks across the country are bracing for the suspension of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food assistance programs, which have become increasingly important to feed the needy.
As private donations dried up during the recession, the USDA’s Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and Commodity Assistance Programs have helped charities and non-profits keep their inventories stocked. The USDA warned Monday that federal funds will halt until Congress strikes a deal, leaving food banks wondering if they should start planning for food shortages.
About 800,000 federal employees have been sent home. Analysts say the shutdown means a reduction in collective American income of about $200 million per day. Communities near national parks are expected to lose $76 million a day in visitor spending. In Yosemite National Park, lodges and cabins had been scheduled to be filled to near capacity. Instead, thousands of visitors were given 48 hours to leave.
This shutdown situation sucks. There will be hardships everywhere. And recalling the 1995 shutdown, the hardships will come in places people least expect. The 1995 shutdown ended with Republicans having to buckle under the public outcry.
But when you think about it, plenty of government will remain operational during this shutdown. This CNN Travel article gives us a hint:
While essential air security and traffic control operations won’t be impeded, travelers visiting the country’s national parks and other government-run tourist attractions will find the gates shuttered and the doors locked.
Translation: In order to fly to that national park that you won’t be able to get into, some federal agencies need to remain open.
“Government shutdown” doesn’t mean what I think it means. Republicans would have a little less shutdown-geist if we really shut down the government.
- All US military operations stop.
- Veterans services and payments stop.
- All passenger jet travel stops.
- Social Security, Medicare payments stop.
- All federal food inspection stops.
- No National Weather Service.
- No US Mail Service.
- No CIA, NSA, FBI, Homeland.
- Federal prisons un-staff, unlock.
Of course we will have some essential level of all these essential things. And there are things I’m leaving out. If only Republicans had to explain to the public why repealing Obamacare was more essential than all these essential things, the government might just still be open. Maybe.
More about the shutdown situation below the fold. Note: NSFW! Read More→
Borrowing a thought from Drew Westen on messaging, we like to say “If you’re not pissing them off, you’re not doing it right.” Meaning, a third of the people will never vote with you no matter what. If you’re messaging is not making that third squeal, you’re being ineffective. Rob Christensen’s column, “The truth behind 10 myths about North Carolina” has Civitas squealing. He must have hit a soft spot.
Here are two of the ten:
Myth No. 2: North Carolina’s state government was in a financial mess until the recent change in party control.
Not according to Wall Street. North Carolina was – and continues to be – one of nine states with AAA bond ratings as awarded by Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. The ratings reflect fiscal strength and prudent management and are analogous to credit ratings of individuals. North Carolina, like most states, did have a large budget shortfall during the deep recession, which it dealt with by budget cuts, salary freezes and other economic measures.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A majority of workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Tennessee have signed cards favoring the union’s representation in creating a German-style works council at the plant, a top United Auto Workers official said.
Volkswagen declined to comment, but its human resources director defended the union’s attempts to organize at Chattanooga.
“I find it very depressing how deeply divided the country is on the issue of labor unions,” Horst Neumann told Reuters late on Wednesday following a panel discussion with German auto industry executives and senior labor leaders from the IG Metall union.
And finally, the oceans boiled, the earth quaked, the skies collapsed and the whole of Earth was engulfed in fire.
Otherwise, it was clearing and cooler on the coast with a light breeze out of the southwest with moderate temperatures and light surf.