A discussion of race, politics, media and the like… What I see is what you get.

Posts tagged “Paul Krugman

The Cult That Is Destroying America

I have been saying this for 2 years now…and I can’t say it any better than Krugman just did…

Watching our system deal with the debt ceiling crisis — a wholly self-inflicted crisis, which may nonetheless have disastrous consequences — it’s increasingly obvious that what we’re looking at is the destructive influence of a cult that has really poisoned our political system.

And no, I don’t mean the fanaticism of the right. Well, OK, that too. But my feeling about those people is that they are what they are; you might as well denounce wolves for being carnivores. Crazy is what they do and what they are.

No, the cult that I see as reflecting a true moral failure is the cult of balance, of centrism.

Think about what’s happening right now. We have a crisis in which the right is making insane demands, while the president and Democrats in Congress are bending over backward to be accommodating — offering plans that are all spending cuts and no taxes, plans that are far to the right of public opinion.

So what do most news reports say? They portray it as a situation in which both sides are equally partisan, equally intransigent — because news reports always do that. And we have influential pundits calling out for a new centrist party, a new centrist president, to get us away from the evils of partisanship.

The reality, of course, is that we already have a centrist president — actually a moderate conservative president. Once again, health reform — his only major change to government — was modeled on Republican plans, indeed plans coming from the Heritage Foundation. And everything else — including the wrongheaded emphasis on austerity in the face of high unemployment — is according to the conservative playbook.

What all this means is that there is no penalty for extremism; no way for most voters, who get their information on the fly rather than doing careful study of the issues, to understand what’s really going on.

You have to ask, what would it take for these news organizations and pundits to actually break with the convention that both sides are equally at fault? This is the clearest, starkest situation one can imagine short of civil war. If this won’t do it, nothing will.

And yes, I think this is a moral issue. The “both sides are at fault” people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it’s out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray.

It’s a terrible thing to watch, and our nation will pay the price. – Paul Krugman

via The Cult That Is Destroying America – NYTimes.com.

Ryancare Versus Obamacare

A voucher program is not “premium support” no matter what type of spin Ryan gives as it relates to his program. This to me is a classic example of Republicans saying they are benevolent while only holding dear the causes of their corporate masters. What they should be offering to do is stopping the corporate welfare that they endorse through tax cuts for the rich and bailouts for the financial industry and subsidies for big oil and other powerful lobby interests. Why is it that the Republican plans only discuss monies that will help regular people while they ignore putting any additional burden on their corporate benefactors? Its ideological. And I, for one, will not lend it any credence.

Some commenters have asked a good question, albeit in a belligerent tone: how does the Ryan plan differ from the Affordable Care Act? After all, in both plans people are supposed to buy coverage from private insurers, with a subsidy from the government.

Well, the answer is that the ACA is specifically designed to ensure that insurance is affordable, whereas Ryancare just hands out vouchers and washes its hands. Specifically, the ACA subsidy system (pdf) sets a maximum percentage of income that families are expected to pay for insurance, on a sliding scale that rises with income. To the extent that the actual cost of a minimum acceptable policy exceeds that percentage of income, subsidies make up the difference.

Ryancare, by contrast, provides a fixed sum — end of story. And because this fixed sum would not grow with rising health care costs, it’s almost guaranteed to fall far short of the actual cost of insurance.

This is also why Ryancare is NOT premium support; it’s a voucher system. No matter how much they say it isn’t, that’s exactly what it is. -Paul Krugman

via Ryancare Versus Obamacare – NYTimes.com.

Let’s Not Be Civil

Last week, President Obama offered a spirited defense of his party’s values — in effect, of the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society. Immediately thereafter, as always happens when Democrats take a stand, the civility police came out in force. The president, we were told, was being too partisan; he needs to treat his opponents with respect; he should have lunch with them, and work out a consensus.

That’s a bad idea. Equally important, it’s an undemocratic idea.

Let’s review the story so far.

Two weeks ago, House Republicans released their big budget proposal, selling it to credulous pundits as a statement of necessity, not ideology — a document telling America What Must Be Done.

But it was, in fact, a deeply partisan document, which you might have guessed from the opening sentence: “Where the president has failed, House Republicans will lead.” It hyped the danger of deficits, yet even on its own (not at all credible) accounting, spending cuts were used mainly to pay for tax cuts rather than deficit reduction. The transparent and obvious goal was to use deficit fears to impose a vision of small government and low taxes, especially on the wealthy.

So the House budget proposal revealed a yawning gap between the two parties’ priorities. And it revealed a deep difference in views about how the world works.

When the proposal was released, it was praised as a “wonk-approved” plan that had been run by the experts. But the “experts” in question, it turned out, were at the Heritage Foundation, and few people outside the hard right found their conclusions credible. In the words of the consulting firm Macroeconomic Advisers — which makes its living telling businesses what they need to know, not telling politicians what they want to hear — the Heritage analysis was “both flawed and contrived.” Basically, Heritage went all in on the much-refuted claim that cutting taxes on the wealthy produces miraculous economic results, including a surge in revenue that actually reduces the deficit.

By the way, Heritage is always like this. Whenever there’s something the G.O.P. doesn’t like — say, environmental protection — Heritage can be counted on to produce a report, based on no economic model anyone else recognizes, claiming that this policy would cause huge job losses. Correspondingly, whenever there’s something Republicans want, like tax cuts for the wealthy or for corporations, Heritage can be counted on to claim that this policy would yield immense economic benefits.

The point is that the two parties don’t just live in different moral universes, they also live in different intellectual universes, with Republicans in particular having a stable of supposed experts who reliably endorse whatever they propose.

So when pundits call on the parties to sit down together and talk, the obvious question is, what are they supposed to talk about? Where’s the common ground?

Eventually, of course, America must choose between these differing visions. And we have a way of doing that. It’s called democracy.

Now, Republicans claim that last year’s midterms gave them a mandate for the vision embodied in their budget. But last year the G.O.P. ran against what it called the “massive Medicare cuts” contained in the health reform law. How, then, can the election have provided a mandate for a plan that not only would preserve all of those cuts, but would go on, over time, to dismantle Medicare completely?

For what it’s worth, polls suggest that the public’s priorities are nothing like those embodied in the Republican budget. Large majorities support higher, not lower, taxes on the wealthy. Large majorities — including a majority of Republicans — also oppose major changes to Medicare. Of course, the poll that matters is the one on Election Day. But that’s all the more reason to make the 2012 election a clear choice between visions.

Which brings me to those calls for a bipartisan solution. Sorry to be cynical, but right now “bipartisan” is usually code for assembling some conservative Democrats and ultraconservative Republicans — all of them with close ties to the wealthy, and many who are wealthy themselves — and having them proclaim that low taxes on high incomes and drastic cuts in social insurance are the only possible solution.

This would be a corrupt, undemocratic way to make decisions about the shape of our society even if those involved really were wise men with a deep grasp of the issues. It’s much worse when many of those at the table are the sort of people who solicit and believe the kind of policy analyses that the Heritage Foundation supplies.

So let’s not be civil. Instead, let’s have a frank discussion of our differences. In particular, if Democrats believe that Republicans are talking cruel nonsense, they should say so — and take their case to the voters. – Paul Krugman

Let’s Not Be Civil – NYTimes.com.

The Mellon Doctrine

Two weeks ago, Republican staff at the Congressional Joint Economic Committee released a report, “Spend Less, Owe Less, Grow the Economy,” that argued that slashing government spending and employment in the face of a deeply depressed economy would actually create jobs. In part, they invoked the aid of the confidence fairy; more on that in a minute. But the leading argument was pure Mellon.

Here’s the report’s explanation of how layoffs would create jobs: “A smaller government work force increases the available supply of educated, skilled workers for private firms, thus lowering labor costs.” Dropping the euphemisms, what this says is that by increasing unemployment, particularly of “educated, skilled workers” — in case you’re wondering, that mainly means schoolteachers — we can drive down wages, which would encourage hiring.

There is, if you think about it, an immediate logical problem here: Republicans are saying that job destruction leads to lower wages, which leads to job creation. – Paul Krugman

So let me get this straight… The GOP wants to CUT government spending and thereby CUT public sector jobs so the market will be FLOODED with workers who will be willing to take LESS money in a more competitive jobs market which LOWERS their labor costs…

So you might have a job but you will be paid less. How does this philosophy help the average working person and their family? It does not. The only entities these types of policies help are the corporations and the wealthy elite. This also PROVES that Republicans never believed that Reaganomics or “Trickle-down” economic policies would benefit working Americans.

I don’t need anymore reasons to not vote for any Republican who supports these policies. But for any of you who remain committed to this debunked theory of economics and continue to vote against your own economic interests (or not vote at all)…consider this another warning of how little respect the Republican party has for average working Americans as they continue to line the pockets of their corporate donors.

via The Mellon Doctrine – NYTimes.com.

The Forgotten Millions

I’ve said since the fall of 2009 that the President and the Dems needed to move “progressive/left” and populist. I still believe that. He needs to be the President that ran in 2007-2008. That rhetoric won the day and it is still popular. The fact that our politics now only discuss deficits and spending tells you just how complete the Republican rhetoric is and just how much the Dems need a counter-narrative to fight back. They had, and we voted for, a counternarrative in 2008… Where has it gone Mr President??

More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed.

Jobs do get mentioned now and then — and a few political figures, notably Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, are still trying to get some kind of action. But no jobs bills have been introduced in Congress, no job-creation plans have been advanced by the White House and all the policy focus seems to be on spending cuts.

So one-sixth of America’s workers — all those who can’t find any job or are stuck with part-time work when they want a full-time job — have, in effect, been abandoned.

It might not be so bad if the jobless could expect to find new employment fairly soon. But unemployment has become a trap, one that’s very difficult to escape. There are almost five times as many unemployed workers as there are job openings; the average unemployed worker has been jobless for 37 weeks, a post-World War II record.

In short, we’re well on the way to creating a permanent underclass of the jobless. Why doesn’t Washington care? – Paul Krugman


The Forgotten Millions – NYTimes.com.

Degrees and Dollars

This article, pointedly, argues why the issues in Wisconsin are not only relevant to middle-class union workers…but also to you college educated seemingly insulated white collar workers who feel that unions have lost their way and their value. I know a few of these guys/gals. Too busy protecting themselves by degrading those who seem to be beneath them not understanding that their protection lies in defending their neighbors and fellow citizens. When you ask these people if their employer would let them go if it made sense monetarily and the profit motive were strong enough, they will tell you “yes”. You would think that these reasonable people would, by extension, understand that they are not special and could be out of work at the whim of their employer. But they rarely make that connection. Maybe they are not as smart as they give themselves credit. Instead of practicing this sort of isolationism that our culture seems ti trumpet, we all need to realize that our strength lies in our community. We are all in this together. Until we understand this, they will be coming after you next, and in a lot of ways, they already have.

It’s corporate power vs the people.

Who’s side are you on……?

The belief that education is becoming ever more important rests on the plausible-sounding notion that advances in technology increase job opportunities for those who work with information — loosely speaking, that computers help those who work with their minds, while hurting those who work with their hands.
Some years ago, however, the economists David Autor, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane argued that this was the wrong way to think about it. Computers, they pointed out, excel at routine tasks, “cognitive and manual tasks that can be accomplished by following explicit rules.” Therefore, any routine task — a category that includes many white-collar, nonmanual jobs — is in the firing line. Conversely, jobs that can’t be carried out by following explicit rules — a category that includes many kinds of manual labor, from truck drivers to janitors — will tend to grow even in the face of technological progress.
And here’s the thing: Most of the manual labor still being done in our economy seems to be of the kind that’s hard to automate. Notably, with production workers in manufacturing down to about 6 percent of U.S. employment, there aren’t many assembly-line jobs left to lose. Meanwhile, quite a lot of white-collar work currently carried out by well-educated, relatively well-paid workers may soon be computerized. Roombas are cute, but robot janitors are a long way off; computerized legal research and computer-aided medical diagnosis are already here.

And then there’s globalization. Once, only manufacturing workers needed to worry about competition from overseas, but the combination of computers and telecommunications has made it possible to provide many services at long range. And research by my Princeton colleagues Alan Blinder and Alan Krueger suggests that high-wage jobs performed by highly educated workers are, if anything, more “offshorable” than jobs done by low-paid, less-educated workers. If they’re right, growing international trade in services will further hollow out the U.S. job market. – Paul Krugman

Degrees and Dollars – NYTimes.com.


How to Kill a Recovery…

In a phrase… Vote Republican. Or have an undying love for and fantasize about “trickle-down/Reaganomics”… Or buy into austerity at a time when the economy is fragile. Or remain a silent tea partier when your union job is cut by executive edict of your state’s Republican governor. Or believe that Paul Ryan doesn’t want to privatize social security. Or propose a budget that will slow economic growth by 1-2% for the year and cost our economy 700,000 jobs. Or believe Eric Cantor when he claims that cutting spending should be highest priority during a sputtering recovery.

How about we just believe John Boehner when he says that we should cut spending even if it costs the country three-quarters of a million jobs… “So be it.” But I thought this was all about jobs, jobs, jobs. I guess not.

That’s the easiest way to kill a recovery.

The clear and present danger to recovery, however, comes from politics — specifically, the demand from House Republicans that the government immediately slash spending on infant nutrition, disease control, clean water and more. Quite aside from their negative long-run consequences, these cuts would lead, directly and indirectly, to the elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs — and this could short-circuit the virtuous circle of rising incomes and improving finances.

Of course, Republicans believe, or at least pretend to believe, that the direct job-destroying effects of their proposals would be more than offset by a rise in business confidence. As I like to put it, they believe that the Confidence Fairy will make everything all right.

But … it’s hard to see how such an obviously irresponsible plan … can improve confidence. Beyond that, we have a lot of evidence from other countries about the prospects for “expansionary austerity” — and that evidence is all negative… – Paul Krugman

How to Kill a Recovery – NYTimes.com.