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Economy

Can we discuss infrastructure?

by: piggieheart

Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:18:29 AM CST

How does it happen that we are hearing words like "sequestration", ""revenue", and "entitlements", but the most important word of all, if we are going to get on our feet and out of debt, has been largely absent. That word is "infra-structure".

President Obama made sure that it was included in the just-passed bill, but there isn't nearly enough talk about it. The example of Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland and Portugal should have taught our so-called "leaders" that austerity does not solve problems, but exacerbates them. Putting stimulus money into re-building our infra-structure will create millions of jobs, improve transportation, education, government services and many other facets of our everyday lives. The increased taxes paid by men and women going back to work will quickly right the fiscal ship of State.

It may be necessary to use the 2014 elections to rid ourselves of the Republican Plague that swept the Nation in 2010, replacing troglodytes in Washington and also in Statehouses across the country. They have used redistricting, onerous anti-Labor laws and other outrageous abuses of power to weaken all levels of government, and they must be removed. We have spoken loudly in support of President Obama, but unless we give him a team to support his game-plan, the eventual result will be disappointing.

There's More... :: (2 Comments, 89 words in story)

Talking Turkey

by: mooncat

Tue Nov 20, 2012 at 08:10:32 AM CST

No, this is not about how to cook your Thanksgiving bird -- check the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line for that.  Today I want to draw your attention to Working America's Turkey Talk, intended to help you leaven those holiday political conversations with a healthy dose of facts.

Picture this: You’re home for the holidays, about to dive into that rich, golden-brown pumpkin pie, when suddenly a conversation erupts with your mother-in-law about “deficit reduction” or “Debt Crisis”. We spend too much, she says, indignant. Why can’t the Federal Government pay its bills—I do. A “harrumph!” is implied by the look she’s giving you. What do you say?

Scenario two: You hear your cousin, who prides himself on being ‘pragmatic’ and ‘serious’, throwing around phrases like “Fiscal Cliff” and “Grand Bargain” – how do you explain why both those phrases are misleading?

Or maybe this: You are forced to listen to your uncle, who gets most of his information from Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity wax on about why the Department of Education should be abolished. What do you say?

You love your relatives, but avoidance is not the answer. Something ought to be done.

Something ought to be done, and it's up to you to do it.  Working America is offering all the information you need to talk intelligently about sequestration, the fiscal cliff, the debt crisis, the "grand bargain" on Social Security and Medicare, taxes and, most importantly, economic fairness for middle class Americans.

All you need to do is study up, be prepared and, when politics crops up at the dinner table, remember to be polite, respectful and pleasant as you inject a dose of reality ... and if the discussion gets too heated, drop the politics and pass the gravy.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Consumer Confidence Up

by: mooncat

Fri Oct 12, 2012 at 14:00:00 PM CDT

More good news for the economy, bad news for Mitt Romney ... Consumer Sentiment Rises to 5 Year High.

U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly rose to its highest level in five years in October as consumers became more optimistic about the overall economy in a possible boost to President Obama's reelection hopes next month. 

This good news for the economy comes on the heels of a drop in the unemployment rate last week and good news about initial unemployment claims just a couple of days ago.  

Heck, even here in the South, more people are quitting their jobs than in recent years, a sign of optimism that they can once again find other, better jobs. 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Major Good News On the Jobs Front

by: mooncat

Fri Oct 05, 2012 at 08:46:00 AM CDT

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent last month, dropping below 8 percent for the first time in nearly four years. The rate declined because more people found work ...

The job market has been improving, sluggishly but steadily. Jobs have been added for 24 straight months. There are now 325,000 more than when Obama took office.

The numbers of jobs added in July and August were also revised -- upward.

Steady improvement in the employment picture.  It's a slower recovery than anyone would wish for -- except Republicans who have done everything possible to slow the economy so they can use it as a tool to defeat Barack Obama -- but still, steady improvement.  Things are better now than they were 4 years ago, moving in the right direction, and people know it. That's why Mitt Romney has not been able to turn this election into a referendum on the economy.

Even though the employment picture is looking up, Mitt Romney would still fire Big Bird ...

Big Bird screenshot 100312

 

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Friday Jobs Report Expected To Disappoint ... Republicans

by: mooncat

Thu Sep 06, 2012 at 12:00:00 PM CDT

Mitt RomneyEver since Clint Eastwood debated a chair at their convention, Republicans have been salivating at the possibility a bad jobs report tomorrow will overshadow President Obama's acceptance speech and the Democrats' successful convention in Charlotte.  That's right, the GOP is selfishly pulling for failure on the jobs front, purely for political gain.

Here's Mitt Romney's advisor, shake the Etch-A-Sketch guy Eric Fehrnstrom:

“I think the biggest news next week will not be the three nights of the DNC but it will be on Friday…We’re all hoping for good news but the odds are high that the unemployment rate will remain above 8 percent.”

Newt Gingrich:

I think the biggest event won’t be his speech Thursday. It’ll be the Friday morning jobs report. If that Friday morning jobs report is bad, it’ll drown his speech. You want to talk about Eastwood? Friday morning jobs report is a lot bigger event next week than Eastwood was this week.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan had a disappointing convention, with zero bounce, and now they're pinning their hopes on bad economic news tomorrow:

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said the campaign will use the jobs numbers to remind voters of Obama’s economic record, including the August 2011 jobs report, which counted zero new jobs.

 
But there's reason to believe Republicans will be the ones disappointed tomorrow, and the report on American jobs will be better than expected, not worse.

U.S. private employers added a better than expected 201,000 jobs in August, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Thursday, a rare dash of good news for the country's struggling labor market.

July's figure from the ADP National Employment Report was revised up to 173,000 from the previously reported 163,000.

201,000 new jobs is good enough that the jobless rate may have actually declined -- good news for Americans seeking work.  The markets love this good news but Romney and his Republican pals aren't rejoicing.  Gallup noted that of recent challengers, only George McGovern (1972) and John Kerry (2004) received no convention bounce.  Both went on to lose to incumbent presidents.

In other unfortunate news for Mitt Romney, hackers claim to have stolen his tax returns from the office of an accounting firm and are holding them for ransom of a million dollars.  The Secret Service is investigating the theft, but I'll bet Mitt is already cutting a check to the blackmailers. 

 
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Joe Biden: "America Is Better Off Today Than They Left Us When They Left"

by: mooncat

Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 11:37:22 AM CDT

Here's Joe Biden yesterday, kicking Romney-Ryan's latest bumper sticker to kingdom come.

"Folks, let me make something clear, and say it to the press. America is better off today than they left us when they left. Folks, this is not your father's Republican party. They view you, the working women and men of America, as the problem. We view you, and know you to be, the solution in America. Look folks, we know who built this country. And we know who is going to rebuild it. It's you. And instead of vilifying you, we should be thanking you. We owe you. ...  Companies are coming home to America, and they're coming home for one stark reason. ... you are the most productive workers in the world.  You want to know whether we're better off?  I've got a little bumper sticker for you.  Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive!"

Better OffPreach it, Joe!  The previous occupants, George W. Bush and his GOP pals, left a huge mess when they left the White House in January 2009.  It's been a hard row, but America is definitely better off now than we were after Bush's two terms. 

Look at the stock market. Look at 29 months of private sector job growth.  Look at GDP.  Look at the number of people for every job opening -- still too high, but steadily declining.

Jamelle Bouie explains why "are you better off" isn't the magic bullet right question for Romney-Ryan:

The “are you better off” question may have been an indictment of Jimmy Carter, but Republican hopes notwithstanding, 2012 isn’t 1980. The economy isn’t as bad, the world isn’t as unstable, and — most importantly —vthe public has a clear memory of four years ago, when Obama took office in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression. As Greg points out, voters seem to be grading Obama on a curve — how good are things relative to the Great Recession? By that measure, the country is better off, even if individuals are in a tougher spot than they were at the beginning of his term.

... With roughly 150,000 new jobs per month and GDP growth of 1.7 percent, there’s no question that we’re better off today than when Obama took office. It’s true that current conditions are on the bad side of mediocre. But that’s just a sign of how terrible things were four years ago. Voters aren’t sure that the recovery has been fast enough, and that’s why they are hesitating before granting Obama a second term. But it’s not enough for Romney to tell voters that their disappointment alone should lead them to fire the president.

And voters are willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on whether he's done enough, because they remember how bad it was at the end of two George W. Bush terms:

The economy was in a freefall that hadn’t been seen since FDR’s days as Obama was taking the oath of office. If the Wall Street meltdown had played out in September 2009, Obama probably wouldn’t be getting much benefit of the doubt now. But it played out in September 2008, at the end of a presidency that the overwhelming majority of voters had decided was a disaster. This doesn’t mean Obama is in the clear; the polls are close, and even if he wins, it will probably be by a narrow margin. But “Are you better off?” doesn’t automatically undermine him the way it did with Carter and Bush 41.

Nobody's arguing that these are actually good times, but they're a hell of a lot better than they were when Obama hit town.  Time's Michael Grunwald:

Four years ago, the U.S. economy was in smithereens. It contracted at an 8.9% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2008, which is Great Depression territory; at that rate we would have shed an entire Canadian economy in 2009. We lost 800,000 jobs the month Obama moved into the White House. Then Obama passed his $800 billion stimulus — have I mentioned that I wrote a book about the stimulus? — and the second quarter of 2009 reflected the second largest GDP improvement in 25 years and the largest jobs improvement in 30 years.

Of course, the improvement was from absolutely hideous to really bad. And since then we’ve only improved from really bad to disappointingly mediocre. Still, I don’t understand why the Obama team feels like it can’t point out that a 2% growth rate with 150,000 new jobs a month is better than a -8.9% growth rate with 800,000 jobs lost a month. It’s not good, but it’s better, and better is better than worse.

Romney & Ryan are walking into a trap by inviting voters to think about how bad things were 4 years ago.  Because that thought leads immediately too whose policies landed us in the Great Recession?  Answer: The policies of George W. Bush and the Republicans -- which are basically the same policies Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to go back to. Things aren't great now, but they've been improving, and the outlook is so much better today than it was 4 years ago.

By the way, GOP veep nominee Paul Ryan is still lyin' about Obama not saving the GM plant in Janesville, WI.  Ryan was on all three networks this morning, repeating the lie that has been debunked by virtually everyone, including Fox News.  Let's do this one more time.  The Janesville GM plant closed in December of 2008, when George W. Bush was still President.  According to the Detroit News, Obama "made no such promise" to keep it open.  And, because Obama went to the mat to save the US auto industry, the Big 3 American automakers were all in the black last year, for the first time in 7 years, with GM reporting record profits.  And as part of GM's bankruptcy proceedings the Janesville plant was placed on "standby" and will be one of the first plants to reopen should GM need more manufacturing capacity.  So any chance of Janesville reopening is thanks to the fact that Obama saved the US auto industry.  When Mitt Romney & Richard Shelby were saying "let it die."

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Mitt Romney: Destroyer-In-Chief

by: mooncat

Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 09:30:00 AM CDT

In this world, there are people who love to build things and people who get their kicks from tearing them down.  Mitt Romney has amassed huge personal wealth for himself and his family.  He did it by tearing things down.

The choice in this election is as clear as Romney's record: He didn't build that, he destroyed it. 

      

On Nov. 6th, will you vote for the man who would tear down America and ship it overseas, or vote to re-elect the man who has been working to re-build the American economy -- and build it to last?  Quick profits for a few, or shared prosperity for all of us? 

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Encouraging new businesses

by: Binky

Tue Aug 21, 2012 at 12:44:25 PM CDT

I am happy to report that in 2012, both political parties are on the side of "small businesses."  Republicans want tax breaks for these organizations while Democrats exclude them from most tax-raising schemes.  This is a good thing.

Both parties want small businesses to succeed, yet unfortunately, most of them will fail.  At the same time, many of our politicians want to crack down on big business so that mom and pop can once again have a fair shot.  Giving small businesses the opportunity to once again compete with the Wal-Mart's of the world is something we should all be able to agree on.

But we don't have to do this by taking away tax breaks for big corporations, though that may, in some circumstances be an answer.  We certainly need not raise taxes on any business, big or small, considering how large the 35% American tax burden is on our businesses already.

The solution is to give small businesses a leg up rather than giving big businesses a leg down, so to speak.

The solution is to stop making them jump through hoops.  Levy a ZERO percent sales tax on small businesses during their first five years, until they turn a profit.  Give them a pass on everything but the Fire Marshall Inspection (and health inspection for food).  Make it easy for them.  Don't force them to collect, levy or keep up with tax books.  Don't take money away from them that they will need to hire employees with while putting food on their own table.  Support them.  That is an answer we should both be able to agree on.

Discuss :: (3 Comments)

Decision 2012 In A Nutshell

by: mooncat

Fri Jul 20, 2012 at 08:15:09 AM CDT

Good choice Bad choiceJoe Klein's Why Bain Matters:

... the strongest case against Bain capitalism is a metaphor: Mitt Romney made a fortune swapping equity for debt. That's what we've done for the past 30 years in this country, turning a great many of our assets into deficits for short-term gain. We need to do the opposite now.


Americans face a clear choice this year.  Turn back to Romney and the extractionist economics that hollowed out the American dream, or move forward with Obama to reinvest in and rebuild the American economy. 
 
It's the old "R for Reverse or D for Drive."
Discuss :: (6 Comments)

If Poor People Are Happy, Alabama Must Be Ecstatic

by: mooncat

Mon Jun 11, 2012 at 09:40:17 AM CDT

Remember when our wise and compassionate Gov. Dr. Robert Bentley said this, back when he was just a legislator?

I understand and I'm fully sympathetic with people who are poor, they don't have enough money to buy food. But, you know, there—there are avenues through which if they really are poor that they can get some help.  They may not be poor in spirit, they may just be poor in not being able to buy all the conveniences that you think they should have. That doesn't mean they're not happy. You can be happy and be poor.

Alabama child povertyWell, if poverty makes people happy, there's a capacity crowd rocking out in Alabama's poorhouse.  We made the top 10 (again!) in income inequality:

Alabama has the sixth-worst income inequality in the nation. Median income in 2010 has increased from $39,980 in 2009, when it was the third lowest in the country. However, the poverty rate also has increased from 2009’s level of 17.5% to become the second highest in the country, at 18.1%. Some 14.3% of the state’s residents rely on food stamps, the eleventh-highest percentage in the country.

 
Alabama's 274,000 poor children are especially happy.  They must be laughing at how little they have -- both in terms of 'conveniences' and of opportunity to better themselves.
 
Alabama has a poverty problem.  Too many people in this state can't make ends meet.  That has negative life consequences not just in terms of economic security, but in terms of health, life expectancy, educational achievement for children and -- yes -- prison population.  Poverty sucks the opportunity out of lives; it's a tremendous source of suffering and a waste of human potential.
 
People like Robert Bentley, who won't admit that poverty is a problem, can't be trusted to do the difficult work of expanding economic opportunity so people can lift themselves out of poverty.  Those who are content with the current situation -- the second highest(!!) level of poverty in the nation -- will never change it.
 
Here's some advice for Gov. Dr. Bentley:
 
Step one is to admit you have a poverty problem.  If you skip step one, Alabama's poor are never going anywhere. 
Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Are These News Items Related?

by: mooncat

Wed May 30, 2012 at 23:13:22 PM CDT

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination Tuesday night in Texas.

The stock market took a beating on Wednesday.

Related? 

They darned sure would be if it was Barack Obama's name in the first line.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Why CEOs "Have To" Make Big Bucks ... JP Morgan Edition

by: mooncat

Tue May 22, 2012 at 10:22:30 AM CDT

Income InequalityIncome inequality is rampant in America, fed by huge pay packages for corporate execs.

The ratio of CEO-to-worker pay between CEOs of the S&P 500 Index companies and U.S. workers widened to 380 times in 2011 from 343 times in 2010.[2] Back in 1980, the average large company CEO only received 42 times the average worker's pay.[3]

There is no rational justification for CEOs making, on average, 380 times as much as the typical employee -- and the gap is much wider in some places.  I was alive and working in 1980 and am here to tell you: corporations were not suffering great hardships back when their CEOs only got 42 times as much as an average worker.  Corporations were fine then ... the big difference is that the rest of us were also doing fine in 1980.  Nowadays the upper crust is awash in caviar and the rest of us are sucking wind -- see the blue line above.

The conventional (conservative) wisdom is that it takes huge salaries to attract the top talent, without which corporations can't make big profits.

How's that working out for JP Morgan?  They gave CEO Jamie Dimon $23 million in pay and bonuses for 2011.  That is 67 times the average compensation for his investment bankers and traders at JPM.  Two weeks ago he 'fessed up that bad bets were going to cost the company an estimated $2 billion.  It gets worse.  The current estimate for the bad trades is $6 to $7 billion

JP Morgan's total loss, including the drop in stock price, is estimated at about $30 billion.  Yep, JP Morgan investors are paying Dimon $23 million a year to bring home a $30 billion loss. 

Excuse me, the only talent on display here is the ability to hang onto his job after a huge screw up.  A predictable screw up, too.  The WSJ reports ...

An executive who oversaw risk management at the unit responsible for trading blunders that cost J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. at least $2 billion this year earlier lost millions while trading for the same unit, according to people familiar with the bank.

Irv Goldman, the chief risk officer, got his job back in February ... on Dimon's watch. 

In spite of Dimon's assertion that "the buck always stops with me," he still has his job.  He must be talking about those $23 million bucks which definitely do stop in his pocket, no matter how many billion dollar mistakes were made on his watch.

Congress needs to enact real financial reform to stop the wild speculation on Wall Street and the corporate world needs to return to more reasonable pay scales.  CEOs do not walk on water -- examples abound -- and there is no way they deserve to make 300 or 400 times as much as actual workers. 

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Americans Are Working Harder & Smarter, Not Getting Paid For It

by: mooncat

Thu May 03, 2012 at 14:00:00 PM CDT

Running harder and harder, just to stay in the same place .... that's what's been happening to American workers for the last 40 years.  The chart and quotes below are from an Economic Policy Institute report, The wedges between productivity and median compensation growth:

 

Productivity in the economy grew by 80.4 percent between 1973 and 2011 but the growth of real hourly compensation of the median worker grew by far less, just 10.7 percent, and nearly all of that growth occurred in a short window in the late 1990s. The pattern was very different from 1948 to 1973, when the hourly compensation of a typical worker grew in tandem with productivity. Reestablishing the link between productivity and pay of the typical worker is an essential component of any effort to provide shared prosperity ...

There was a time when wages tracked productivity.  Workers who were more productive -- working harder and smarter -- could expect higher compensation in return.  That bargain fell apart in the late 1970's when "job creators" started skimming productivity increases right off the top.  Working harder and smarter didn't increase your wages, but it sure as heck made more money for somebody.

“the top 1 percent of households have secured a very large share of all of the gains in income—59.9 percent of the gains from 1979–2007, while the top 0.1 percent seized an even more disproportionate share: 36 percent. In comparison, only 8.6 percent of income gains have gone to the bottom 90 percent”

As a society, do we value work?  Or wealth? 

We give lip service to the value of work, but when it comes to actually compensating those who do the work, so-called job creators are skimming the cream. 

How much cream are they skimming?  Look at the chart above.  It's that wedge-shaped gap between the productivity line and the hourly compensation line that's been growing all out of proportion since 1975.  That's what's been stolen from workers, and its absence is the reason middle class families are having an increasingly hard time making ends meet.

It's not just a bad dream ... you really have been working harder but not getting paid more for it.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

See How That #$%*@& Socialist Obama Has Wrecked the Economy!

by: mooncat

Tue Apr 03, 2012 at 07:49:40 AM CDT

Read it and weep, Republican naysayers! 

Dow Rises to Highest Level Since 2007 On Manufacturing

The S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent to 1,419.04 at 4 p.m. New York time. The index on March 30 completed its biggest first-quarter rally since 1998.

...

“The manufacturing data continue to show signs of improvement. It supports our modest pro- cyclical position.” Equities gained as manufacturing in the U.S. expanded at a faster pace than forecast in March, a sign that the industry is weathering slower global growth.

...

Investors snapped up shares of companies most tied to the economy. 

...

The S&P’s first-quarter rally sent U.S. stocks above gold by the most in more than a decade, a sign of growing investor confidence in corporate profits as analysts raise earnings estimates for the first time this year. 

...

“The problem with gold now is that people are starting to accept the economy recovery,” Birinyi, president of Westport, Connecticut-based Birinyi Associates Inc., said in a March 29 phone interview. 

That pinko-commie-socialist-free-enterprise-hater Obama has totally wrecked the US Economy!!!   Just look how he's ruined the stock market since George W. Bush left office ...

Dow Jones Industrial Average

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Hyundai Has Used Its Influence In Alabama To Secure Hundreds of Millions In Incentives

by: americasvoice

Wed Mar 14, 2012 at 15:07:58 PM CDT

( - promoted by mooncat)

alabama plant openingHyundai's corporate headquarters may be in Seoul, but the company has enormous influence over Alabama politicians. Alabama's elected officials have been more than willing to open the state's coffers to Hyundai -- twice. So, Hyundai, which markets heavily to the Latino community, has close ties to the leaders who implemented H.B. 56. And, it's pretty clear there's a tight relationship, which started in 2002:

The cost of tempting Hyundai Motor Co. to bring its first U.S. manufacturing plant to Alabama didn't come cheap more than $234 million of public incentives.

That includes money for job training, highway improvements, land purchases and tax credits, Finance Director Henry Mabry announced Thursday.

The incentive cost for each of the anticipated 2,000 jobs created is about $117,317 less than what was paid to lure the Mercedes-Benz plant to Vance but more than Honda demanded for its factory in Lincoln.

We didn't provide any incentives we didn't have to, Mr. Mabry said. This is a good investment for Alabama.

Hyundai announced Monday it would build the $1 billion plant south of Montgomery. It is expected to produce 300,000 vehicles a year by 2005.

In 2007, then-Governor Riley called a special session to arrange another $400 million in state financing to lure Hyundai into building another plant. Let's just say: Governors don't call special sessions for just anyone. This is a clear example of the company's power within the state:

Alabama was in the hunt for the engine plant when Riley called the Legislature into special session to expand the state's borrowing capacity for industrial incentives by $400 million. Riley's plan passed without a dissenting vote on March 2.

State officials said the state will provide $15 million to Hyundai for site preparation, construction costs, machinery and equipment, plus up to $2 million to train employees. The state will also make road improvements and will provide tax credits and tax abatements that are available to all new industries.

The city and county governments will chip in up to $3.5 million for site preparation, roads and other costs.

Despite the power that they hold in Alabama, Hyundai is unwilling to exert its influence to take a stand against H.B. 56 and to stand up for Alabamians' civil liberties. Alabama's anti-immigrant law has been the cause of much devastation in Alabama -- ripping families apart, and forcing people deeper into the shadows. And since money is what moves them, here's a real lesson for Hyundai to learn -- as Douglas Oxenhorn wrote on the Facebook "Put the Brakes on Hate" campaign page:

Excellent! This IS part of their community and Honda, Hyundai have a responsibility to speak up against hatred! If not, I will re-think a car purchase from both companies in future...

And he's not the only one...

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

The 1% Recovery

by: mooncat

Mon Mar 05, 2012 at 08:54:30 AM CST

The Great Recession has officially been over for a couple of years.  If you still aren't feeling the economic love, it probably means you're one of the 99% because nowadays recovery is a luxury item.

In the first year of the recovery, 93 percent of all income gains went to the top one percent. As of 2010, recovery was a luxury item. You had to be in the one percent to get any.

... Probably the one percenters aren't hogging recovery dollars as much in 2012 as they were in 2010. Unemployment, after all, has gone down a bit. Still, 93 percent is a shockingly large share of recovery dollars for the one-percenters to gobble up.

The 1%ers have gamed the system so that they're positioned to skim off the cream.  It's in the tax structure and it's in the decisions government is making from Washington to state and local levels. 

In his essay, States of Depression, Paul Krugman described how cuts in government spending and employment -- especially at the state and local levels -- are actually holding the economy back.

This policy malpractice is doing double damage to America. On one side, it’s helping lose the future — because that’s what happens when you neglect education and public investment. At the same time, it’s hurting us right now, by helping keep growth low and unemployment high. 

Austerity is the wrong answer.  Laying off more teachers isn't going to cure the problem -- it just makes the crisis worse down the road.  Same for closing mental health facilities, delaying bridge and road repairs and all the other items on the chopping block.  Pay now ... or pay more later.

A huge part of finding the revenue to pay for the services we need now -- like schools -- is reforming the tax code so that the folks getting the lion's share of the economic cream pay a fair tax on it.  The leading presidential candidate in France, Francois Hollande, is now calling for a 75% super tax on all income over 1 million euros.  He called it "patriotic." 

“I appreciate the talent, work, merit of those who create and enable France to move forward,” Hollande continued. “I do not agree with excessive wealth — and compensation that has no connection with talent, intelligence, or effort.”

And remember, this is coming from a moderate politician.

Personally, I think the top tax rate should be even higher -- it's the only thing I'd like to see rolled back to the 1950's.  Economic recovery should not be a luxury item.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

An Inconvenient Truth: The Stimulus Bill Did Reduce Unemployment. GOP in Denial

by: countrycat

Fri Feb 24, 2012 at 15:00:00 PM CST

You know that American Recovery Act (or Stimulus Package) that Republicans have excoriated since the day President Obama proposed it?  According to the Congressional Budget Office, it worked.  This crop of GOP presidential candidates never let actual facts get in the way of talking points, but nevertheless... here goes:American Recovery & Reinvestment Act

According to CBO, between 300,000 and 2 million people who were employed in December owed their jobs to the stimulus. The Recovery Act’s impact on jobs peaked in 2010′s third quarter, when an estimated 3.6 million people were employed in jobs that were either saved or created by the Recovery Act. CBO also found that the stimulus:

-Raised real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 0.2 percent and 1.5 percent.

Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.2 percentage points and 1.1 percentage points.

Increased the number of people employed by between 0.3 million and 2.0 million.

– Increased the number of full-time-equivalent jobs by 0.4 million to 2.6 million. (Increases in FTE jobs include shifts from part-time to full-time work or overtime and are thus generally larger than increases in the number of employed workers.)

It's not just the CBO.  Other economists overwhelmingly agree as well. The University of Chicago's Booth School of business polled 40 of the top economists in the country about the effect of the stimulus.  80% of them agreed with the statement that unemployment was lower in 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus bill

What might have happened if the US had gone the austerity route - the very same strategy being pushed by Romney, Santorum, Paul, Mo Brooks, & every TEA Partier still sipping from their cups of poisoned rhetoric and invented "facts?"

...as luck would have it, the global economy has supplied us with two experiments, one testing each theory. The European Union embraced the austerity of Hayek and the anti-Keynesians: It is plunging into a renewed recession. Here in the United States, where President Obama supported a modest stimulus bill, auto bailouts, and some financial reregulation, the renewed auto sector is roaring back to life, and the unemployment rate is dropping at a nice clip. In the auto sector, government helped clean up the balance sheet, renegotiate pension and work rules, restructure wage scales, and build the best product possible.

Detroit is bouncing back, with profits and new models streaming off assembly lines. Europe is facing an austere summer and fall, with little to show for its ideological purity except continued red ink.
[...]
With the economic argument failing, the Republican Party is searching for another argument.  Hence the rise of Santorum.

The GOP is left with nothing whatsoever to say about fixing the economy except nonsense statements like the ones from Wednesday night's debate.  When asked point blank "How would you cut the deficit?" candidates were long on fallacy & short on facts:

While Mitt Romney danced around the question by telling people that he would turn the programs into block grants and hand them back to the states, Rick Santorum was honest. He promised that he would go after Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Food Stamps. Santorum also promised that he would not cut military spending.

We really must keep this primary season rolling as long as possible. Feckless GOP primary voters are working together to make President Obama the luckiest man in America.

 

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Why Are We Suddenly Awash In Republican Craziness?

by: mooncat

Thu Feb 23, 2012 at 11:57:15 AM CST

(Secondarily, why can't I read Carl Hiaasen in my local paper?)

If you’re mystified, you’re not alone. Ignoring years of public-opinion polls, the GOP is boldly marching backwards into the 1960s to question whether contraception is a legitimate health-care benefit.

...

As political miscalculations go, this one could be epic. If you’re looking for a sure way to galvanize female voters against your own party, attack birth control.


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/02/23/139386/commentary-gop-goes-back-to-the.html#storylink=cpy

The Republican victory in 2010 was due to their focus on the economy -- where are the jobs -- so why are they now all fringey social issues, all the time?  Bill Maher* explains the obvious -- the economy got better!

Bill Maher tweet

When you've got nothing on the economy, go for the crazy.  Hiaasen predicts a bad Kool-Aid hangover for Republicans:

If the Republicans stay on this sorry, dead-end path, Obama’s task is clear:

Ice the champagne.


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/02/23/139386/commentary-gop-goes-back-to-the.html#storylink=cpy

 

*Alabama Democrats still have a few tickets available for Bill Maher's March 17 performance in Huntsville, which include prime seating plus a Chairman's reception before the show.

Discuss :: (6 Comments)

Spending Cuts: Mitt Romney Has A Truth Attack

by: mooncat

Wed Feb 22, 2012 at 08:09:02 AM CST

Mitt Romney Steve Pearce event 056If conservatives "couldn't warm to" Mitt Romney before, they must be ice cold after hearing his comment on deficit spending:

"If you just cut, if all you're thinking about doing is cutting spending, as you cut spending you'll slow down the economy ..."

Yes!  Cutting spending, is bad for the economy, especially during a recession.  This is what Barack Obama has been trying to tell Congress for 3 years but all Republicans want to do is cut, cut, cut.  Deep down, Mitt knows conservative economic policies are a load of crap.  Unfortunately for him, the truth slipped out just as the GOP primary was heating up ...

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

It's Baaaack ... Will Congress Extend the Payroll Tax Cut Or Raise Your Taxes?

by: mooncat

Sun Feb 12, 2012 at 13:22:07 PM CST

We went through this in December, now we get to do it again.  If Congress doesn't act by the end of February, 160 million hardworking Americans will see their payroll taxes rise by an average $40 per paycheck

In his weekly address, President Obama urges Congress to act quickly to extend the payroll tax cut.

      

Congress needs to stop this middle class tax hike from happening.  Period.  No drama.  No delay.  And no ideological side issues that have nothing to do with this tax cut.  Now is not the time for self-inflicted wounds to our recovery.  Now is the time for common-sense action.  And this tax cut is common-sense.  If you’re a family making about $50,000 a year, this tax cut amounts to about $1,000 a year.  That’s about $40 in every paycheck.  I know there are some folks in this town who think $40 isn’t a lot of money.  But to a student or a senior who’s trying to stretch the budget a little bit further?  To a parent who’s filling up the tank and looking at rising gas prices?  To them, $40 can make all the difference in the world.

And so can your voice.  I hope you’ll pick up the phone, send a tweet, write an email, and tell your representative that they should get this done before it gets too late.  Tell them not to play politics again by linking this debate to unrelated issues. Tell them not to manufacture another needless standoff or crisis.  Tell them not to stand in the way of the recovery.  Tell them to just do their job.  That’s what our middle class needs.  That’s what our country needs.

President Obama is right, Congress should be doing everything they can to stoke the fires of this economic recovery ... but will they?  Or will the Republicans in Congress decide, "We don't have shared goals with Democrats" and "The single most important thing we want to achieve is fpr President Obama to be a one-term president."  Raising taxes on 160 million Americans is a sure fire way to knock this economic recovery in the head and -- so the thinking goes -- breathe life into Republican hopes in November. 

Will the GOP yield to temptation and play politics with the economy again, or will they do their jobs and prevent this tax hike on the middle class?

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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