Archive for Stimulus
Who is that sensible guy?
Chris Hayes’ research team did some digging and came up with Rep. Paul Ryan, under a Republican administration, arguing forcefully in support of just the kind of economic policies he now utterly rejects under a Democratic one. Now the Republicans’ vice-presidential candidate, Ryan argued in 2002 that a third Bush stimulus package was needed to help the unemployed and to kick-start the economy. And deficits be damned.
Ryan has denounced the 2009 Recovery Act signed by President Obama as “a wasteful spending spree” and “failed neo-Keynesian experiment,” and – as The Huffington Post pointed out this morning — dismissed as “sugar-high economics” the idea that government spending, through measures like payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits, can help shore up a faltering economy.
But in 2002, when then-President Bush was seeking a roughly $120 billion package of tax cuts, tax incentives for business and unemployment benefits to jump-start the economy, Ryan offered a vigorous defense of the plan. “What we’re trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed,” Ryan said in video that aired today on Up w/ Chris Hayes. The remarks came during a House debate on the measure on Feb. 14, 2002.
As they say, IOKIYAR.
“It’s more than just giving someone an unemployment check,” Ryan said of the Bush stimulus bill. “It’s also helping those people with their health insurance while they’ve lost their jobs and more important than just that unemployment check, it’s to do what we can to give people a paycheck.”
Ryan called such measures “time-tested, proven, bipartisan solutions to get businesses to stop laying off people, to hire people back, and to help those people who have lost their jobs,” and urged congressional Democrats to break ranks and join Republicans in supporting the president’s plan.
Who is that guy?
Well, I was sort of looking forward to it coming to a head, because you know, I feel like the financial Lords of the Universe on Wall Street got a pretty darn good deal back when the feces entered the ventilation system in ’08. They got bailed out at the taxpayers’ expense. They got “made whole” without so much as a slap on the wrist. They got to continue making billions, while the average American got to sink or swim on empty promises of “change” and precious little else.
Just in from Paris:
PARIS — Francois Hollande was elected France’s first Socialist president in nearly two decades on Sunday, dealing a humiliating defeat to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy and shaking up European politics.
The Socialist has vowed to renegotiate the hard-fought fiscal austerity pact signed by EU leaders in March and to make it focus more on growth, but is facing resistance from [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel. The French vote coincides with an election in Greece, where voters were also expected to punish the incumbent parties for landing the country in its bleak economic state. Anger over sputtering economies has brought down leaders from Ireland to Portugal since the debt crisis washed over the European continent.
With a little help from a stimulus loan…
Take those bright spots where you can get them.
McClatchy canvassed a a sample of small business owners — a hotel owner, a cleaning service, an appliance store — about whether excessive regulation was hurting their businesses and dampening hiring. Reporters found little support for the notion that government regulation is the problem for small business that the U.S. Chamber often suggests it is.
When asked, McClatchy reports, the Chamber cites health care, banking and national labor as problems it faces, yet these are bigger problems for large corporations than the mom-and-pop operations that come to mind when business leaders deploy the near-folksy “small business.”
None of the business owners complained about regulation in their particular industries, and most seemed to welcome it. Some pointed to the lack of regulation in mortgage lending as a principal cause of the financial crisis that brought about the Great Recession of 2007-09 and its grim aftermath.
A post from Dave Johnson at Campaign for America’s Future is making the rounds on the ‘tubes. It’s gone a little viral. It helps that the title is Three Charts To Email To Your Right-Wing Brother-In-Law. The rest explains itself:
Problem: Your right-wing brother-in-law is plugged into the FOX-Limbaugh lie machine, and keeps sending you emails about “Obama spending” and “Obama deficits” and how the “Stimulus” just made things worse. Solution: Here are three “reality-based” charts to send to him. These charts show what actually happened.
Read the rest here.
E. J. Dionne points out that other countries are adapting to a global economy:
Encouraged by Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, I spent time recently with the Wall Street Journal’s report on its annual ECO:nomics conference, published in March. Right off, the Journal’s account emphasized that China is “grabbing clean-technology market share not because of its cheap labor … but through strong mandates and subsidies to build a new export industry.” Ahem, those words “mandates” and “subsidies” don’t come out of the free-market playbook.
On his blog, Pope cites another corporate leader who attended the conference, Andrew N. Liveris, the chairman and chief executive of Dow Chemical. “Around the world,” Liveris writes in his book “Make It in America,” “countries are acting more and more like companies: competing aggressively against one another for business and progress and wealth. … Meanwhile, in the United States, we operate as if little has changed.”
So many of these CEOs behave like “pragmatists, not ideologues,” writes Dionne. Read More→
When the George W. Bush administration set about giving 90 million Americans tax rebates in 2001, it first wasted taxpayer dollars on 90 million letters sent two weeks ahead of putting the checks in the mail to alert people that their checks would be in the mail. When the Obama administration cuts taxes for 95 percent of working Americans, nobody noticed.
One of the biggest problems the Obama administration has had to date is its lack of bold P.R. in promoting its own accomplishments from its bully pulpit. This lame duck congress has been surprisingly productive for Obama, but who will notice (or remember) if he doesn’t do a better job of tooting his own horn? If you didn’t catch the Rachel Maddow Show on Wednesday night, she did a bang-up job of promoting the Obama administration’s accomplishments and contrasting the Democrats’ agenda with the Republicans’. A pity Maddow doesn’t have reach much beyond the liberal choir. For that, Obama’s campaign had best hire a good ad agency, yesterday if not sooner.
Spend some time with this video to see how it’s done in long-form. Now if Obama could just distill this 13 minutes down to a couple of lively 30-sec spots:
Via Digby, Brian Beutler speculates on why the GOP suddenly got the holiday spirit in cooperating with Democrats.
The tax deal the White House has cut (sort of) has critics all around. It’s not perfect, sure. But it’s the nagging little things. On Wednesday HuffPost wondered about one of those little things:
WASHINGTON – The tax cut deal that President Obama struck with congressional Republicans contains a provision that could ultimately be the undoing of Social Security, say Senate Democrats and backers of the old-age and disability program.
Obama, as part of the Democratic package, secured a roughly 30 percent cut in the payroll tax, from 6.2 to 4.2 percent. Allowing it to expire in a year will mean that workers will see a nearly 50 percent jump in payroll taxes as the rate reverts back — an event that will surely be described as a tax hike. The cut is estimated to cost $120 billion per year.
Democrats have never allowed the rate to be cut, even temporarily, in the history of the program, because payroll taxes feed the Social Security trust fund and create the political base of support for the program, said Nancy Altman, author of “The Battle For Social Security”, a history of the program, and head of the advocacy group Social Security Works. Republicans have won a long-sought victory, even as President Obama hails it as a win for his party.
On Tuesday, Nancy Altman elaborated on possible implications — the end Social Security — at Firedoglake:
… I find it unfathomable that a more conservative Congress, in two years, in an election year, will increase the payroll tax by 2 percent on the very first dollar, and every other dollar up to the cap, earned by virtually every single worker in the country. Consequently, I think we have to assume that the payroll tax holiday will be extended beyond the two years the president is proposing and quite likely could become permanent.
That means that the federal government will have to continue to transfer $120 billion to the Social Security trust funds each and every year even as it has to transfer more and more interest payments as the trust funds continue to grow and as interest rates return to more normal levels. Unless Congress acts to restore Social Security to solvency, the Treasury bonds held in trust will have to be redeemed, again on top of that new $120 billion transfer from the general fund, starting fifteen years from now, assuming Congress even continues to make the $120 billion every year before that point. These dollars will be competing with dollars for defense, environmental protection, education, school lunches, Food Stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, SSI, Pell grants for low income college students, and every other good and service financed by the federal government.
A permanent two percent cut in Social Security contributions doubles the 75 year projected shortfall. Scrapping the cap (eliminating the $106,800 maximum on earnings), tonally eliminates the shortfall today. If FICA is cut by 2 percent, scrapping the cap gets Social Security only halfway there.
You don’t need a weatherman to know which way that wind blows. The rest (including Social Security?) is history waiting to write itself.
Paul Krugman writes today Obama got “a significant amount of short-term stimulus” that could produce “a noticeable net positive for the economy next year,” but he wonders at what cost. There are significant weaknesses in the deal, not the least of which are political implications for 2012:
You may say that economic policy shouldn’t be affected by partisan considerations. But even if you believe that — how’s the weather on your planet?
One of Krugman’s big concerns? That Obama is paying for the release of some hostages by giving the GOP new ones.
Republicans may try using the prospect of a rise in the payroll tax to undermine Social Security finances.
Republicans would do that? Nah!
Alarmist? Maybe. But then again, we have had plenty of reason for alarm lately.