Blog home has now changed

March 22nd, 2012

New blog address is now:

http://ufpj-dvn-econ.blogspot.com/

Cat Food Commission – misleading statements

February 27th, 2012

The NY Times publishes a highly misleading paragraph on the Simpson-Bowles  deficit reduction commission.

It came just a few months after the president had opted not to endorse the recommendations of a deficit commission he had created in hopes of brokering a bold, bipartisan deficit deal. That gave rise to a portrayal that has stuck, popularized by Republicans, pundits and some Democrats: that the president, out of political timidity, snubbed his own panel’s plan.

The emphasized portions are incorrect. There was no recommendation from the commission. A recommendation was produced, yes, but it failed to get all 14 members to sign on to it, so it was the recommendation of only the two co-chairs. This is an extremely important point as, if the commission couldn’t even get all 14 of their own members to sign on to it, then how can the author possibly make the case that the plan is so popular that it needs to be adopted wholesale?

Mitt Romney thinks it’s terrible that the President “simply brushed aside” those recommendations, but if the recommendations had so little support in the first place, than what’s the big deal?

And sorry, but I paid close attention to what the deal was projected to be. It thoroughly deserved the name “Cat Food Commission” because under it, senior citizens would have felt lucky to be having a can of cat food for dinner. It was an awful plan that cut into benefits for citizens far too deeply.

Credibility

February 20th, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me that people who worked for G.W. Bush have any political credibility whatsoever or are considered to be “Very Serious People” on economics. Republican Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels is occasionally mentioned as a presidential contender, but the tax cuts he did much to get through did little or no good for the economy and on the larger economic questions, the ideas that Daniels pushed are what Paul Krugman refers to as “austerity economics,” and they’ve proven to be utterly disastrous in practice. Amazingly enough, Daniels is even considered to be an acceptable emergency fill-in substitute presidential candidate for Mitt Romney by “ ‘the adults’ in the [Republican] party.”
Thomas Friedman, the poor man’s “deep thinker,” is pushing for David Walker, who headed up the Government Accountability Office from 1998 to 2008 before leaving to take the helm as President of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Again, this is an economist who has little or nothing to recommend him. Walker was conducting “a ‘fiscal wake-up tour’ around the country in the years 2004-2008 to try to call attention to the problem of the budget deficit.” Problem of course, was that the housing bubble popped during this tour and promptly caused far more misery and havoc than anything that Walker was busy earnestly warning the country about. I didn’t find any evidence that Mitch Daniels had any opinions about the housing bubble during this critical time. To be fair, Daniels was busy being Governor of Indiana during that time, but it’s most curious how no reporter is known to have ever asked Daniels why he missed the housing bubble.
What’s truly amazing is that these are people who completely failed the country during a time when sensible economists were very sorely needed. Why are they being considered “Very Serious People” today?!?!!?

Bad news for the 1%

January 25th, 2012

In a dial-poll (People twist their dials as they approve or disapprove of parts of a speech while listening to it), Republicans, Democrats and Independents all very strongly approve of the part of the SOTU where President Obama speaks of wealthy people like himself and others paying “our fair share of taxes.” Take a bow, OWS!!!

Oh, and did the House of Representatives pass 30 jobs bills? Uh, no, actually, they did nothing of the kind.

And after the State of the Union speech, former G.W. Bush Budget Director Mitch Daniels gives the Republican rebuttal, proving that he has no better grasp of economics than he did in his former job (Rachel Maddow looks at his career as Governor of Indiana and no, there’s no sign that he’s improved there, either). Fox News, of course, loved Daniels’ speech.

Flyer on austerity

January 14th, 2012

Austerity flyer. Austerity strikes me as pretty much THE issue of the Obama Administration. I take a primer piece on it from a piece in Crooks & Liars and jazz it up with some graphics and short pieces before and after.

Study on Stimulus effectiveness & other stories

December 19th, 2011

PDF on effectiveness of the February 2008 Stimulus.

Also, economist Robert Samuelson criticizes Keynesian theories, but interestingly, fails to spell out any alternatives. Also completely fails to explain why, if the American economy was in such dire straits, interest rates on Ten-Year Treasury Bonds are still so low. The “risk premium” should be through the roof if the situation were even half as bad as he suggests.

Again, Boehner is demonstrating that he’s the weakest Speaker of the House in living memory.  What’s the point of making deals with a guy who can’t deliver?

The entertainment industry is strongly pushing a Stop Online Piracy (SOPA) bill. Funny thing, but their profits at this time are absolutely soaring. Are they trying to destroy the Internet for nothing?

Round-up on Occupy Philly that was in control of Dilworth Plaza for a little under two months.

Protest Senator Toomey (Member of Cat Food Commission)

November 4th, 2011

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) is a member of Cat Food Commission II and the Progressive Democrats of America will be holding a Brown Bag Lunch Vigil at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 17 at Toomey’s Philadelphia office at 1628 John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

I’ve got a flyer up that gives the same event details and explores just what the Cat Food Commission is all about. Oh, and here’s the link to the Paul Krugman piece that connects to the CBO Report that the flyer refers to.

Cat Food Commission II – wasted opportunity

October 30th, 2011

When I read about Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and, unfortunately, a majority of other Democrats on the “Super-Committee” (Which progressives refer to as “Cat Food Commission II”) offering a radically regressive plan to make $500 billion in Medicare cuts, I read a few more sentences. I saw that, sure, fine, okay, the plan would also ask for $300 billion in stimulus funds, but the result of that would obviously be $200 billion in lost consumer demand as people would either lose work from sickness or would spend money they would otherwise spend on other things. I shot out a few letters to my representatives, but I agree with this piece that says the proposal was a horribly wasted opportunity to make a clear statement to the American people as to what Democrats actually want to do and what Democrats really stand for.

Really? Do Democrats really want to see $2 trillion in spending cuts balanced against only $1 trillion in new taxes? At a time of 9% unemployment?!?! At a time when the Occupy Wall Street movement should have been making it absolutely crystal clear to politicians that the time for austerity measures is long over?!?!!?

How on Earth could Democratic politicians have possibly concluded that Republicans were going to agree to new taxes? What on Earth made them think that anybody in America was so anxious for an agreement that they’d take a slowdown in the economy in return for a wildly uneven agreement that would hurt an already-hurting economy still further?

And remember the outcome of the debt-limit debacle. Speaker of the House John Boehner said he got 98% of what his side wanted out of the deal and, not surprisingly, President Obama’s approval rating promptly cratered. That’s because he gave up far too much in return for far too little.

Sorry, but Baucus’ offer is a major FAIL in every possible way that one can look at it. Fortunately for the American people, Republicans turned up their noses at the offer and refused to even discuss it.

Update: Washington Post puts together an excruciatingly bad front page editorial piece (They pretend it’s a news piece) that completely misrepresents the status of Social Security. Piece includes link to mailing list with which to contact media and request correction.

Round-up on Occupy Wall Street

October 19th, 2011

6:14 PM PT: Herman Cain is really frustrated because he doesn’t understand what the OWS movement wants. “Do they want the bankers to come downstairs with checks in their hands?” he asks. He’s totally bewildered and obviously pissed about it. He wants to know what to do to make them go away. And he can’t figure it out. And, of course, that’s exactly the point. That’s the question the OWS movement wants him to be asking. And eventually the Herman Cains of the world will be forced to figure it out.

Daily Kos covers Republican debate of 18Oct2011

A Huffington Post writer explores just why the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has been so successful. BTW, percentage of those who approve of the Tea Party: 27%, percentage of those who approve of OWS: 54%. Heck, New Yorkers like them by a margin of 67%.

Dissenter at FireDogLake.com contributes another, very typical story about what motivates the OWS movement. My own story on visitng OWS in New York. Our allying of Occupy Philly with Philly Against War. Treasury Secretary’ Timothy Geithner’s vow to do “more” to help the 99% rings a bit hollow as no one remembers him doing much of anything to begin with. And last Saturday’s protests? Wow!!!

Is the Democratic Party close and all buddy-buddy with OWS? Not exactly. Both sides have good reason to keep their distance. The National Review website is convinced that the two are in cahoots anyway. Good round-up of views on Democrats and OWS.

See, here’s a big part of the problem

October 11th, 2011

Jeffrey Immelt, the former head of General Electric, is America’s “Jobs Czar.” What’s the problem with that? Well, first off, corporate executives don’t necessarily know anything about creating jobs for regular American citizens. Their whole expertise, from Mitt Romney (Republican presidential candidate) to Rick Scott (Governor of Florida) to Meg Whitman (Spent $160 million to become Governor of California and lost), consists of doing what benefits them and them alone. Perhaps a few cronies can share in the spoils, but their whole ideology revolves around “What’s good for General Motors (Or whatever corporation they run) is good for the USA!”

Because the ideology of business holds that whatever is good for them personally is also good for America as a whole, they simply can’t see where what’s good for them personally ends and when the good the country should take a higher priority. There never was any indication that corporate executives make good politicians. There are of course exceptions, there’s nothing about being a corporate executive that automatically makes one unqualified to be a politician or a political appointee, but when Immelt fired one-fifth of GE and made hundreds of times what the average worker at GE made, there’s nothing that should give us any confidence that Immelt has the vaguest clue as to what he’s doing.

Please let’s get off the idea that corporate executives automatically make good politicians. G.W. Bush was the first President to have earned an MBA and look where that got us!