Monday, April 25, 2011

An Unusual Source Speaks the Truth

Today (Monday, April 25) CNN has an opinion piece from former George W. Bush staffer David Frum that shocked me, and not in a Capt Renault kind of way.

Technically speaking, the U.S. economy is recovering right now. GDP growth has been positive since the summer of 2009. Employment is growing. If you like, you can say the recession is over.

But don't say it too loud. With 13.5 million people out of work -- 6.1 million out of work for 27 weeks or more -- the odds are high that one of them may hear and take offense.

The recovery is weak, and job creation is slow. Everybody knows that. But here's something that we don't know, or anyway don't think about enough: Isn't it weird that in this dismal economic situation, neither of the two great U.S. political parties is offering a plan to do anything about the job situation?
Frum goes on to note that the Republicans at least have a "plan" (Rep Paul Ryan's "budget"), even though the "plan" does nothing to help the unemployed, nor does it actually do anything on the budget. He also notes that the Democratic "plan" consists primarily of blasting the Ryan plan.
The administration does however have a political plan: Blast the Ryan plan. Since the Ryan plan is highly politically vulnerable, the blasting will likely hurt the GOP and help President Obama. The blasting will not, however, do much for the unemployed. But then we've all sort of given up on them, haven't we?
I have to give credit when it is due and right now, Frum seems to be one of the few members in presumably good standing of the Village who is actually seeing something close to the reality faced by millions of us within the US today. Annie Lowrey of the Washington Post almost got it correct yesterday before reverting to Beltway cheerleading. The rest of the Very Serious People though are ever so serious as they toil away in the alternative world where the budget deficit is the ultimate problem in the world today. From Robert Samuelson at the Washington Post we get this. Of course in Samuelson's world, everything is the fault of social spending. How else to explain these two little 'nuggets'?
Who deserves government subsidies and how much? About 55 percent of spending goes to individuals, including the elderly, veterans, farmers, students, the disabled and the poor.

How much, if at all, should social spending be allowed to squeeze national defense?
Social spending is squeezing national defense? Seriously? I guess if you believe that we need a few more aircraft carrier groups, more nuclear submarines, more advanced fighter jets costing billions each, all relics of the Cold War, then I guess taking care of "the elderly, veterans, farmers, students, the disabled, and the poor," that's a squeeze. Enjoy life in that bubble Mr Samuelson. As a Facebook 'status' message that has been floating around a few months says:
Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes?

Yeah, me neither.
Being the Very Serious People that they are, the folks at Politico offered up their perspective, albeit from the "What will it take for President Obama to get a deal on the debt limit" side of things:
But conservatives in the House, feeling burned by a Congressional Budget Office report revealing that the deal on the 2011 budget they just made with the president cut far less from the deficit than originally reported, are in a fighting mood, intent on pressing for bigger and more specific cuts as a condition of raising the ceiling.


House Republicans have ruled out any possibility of cutting the deficit by collecting more tax revenue, and have proposed a raft of structural changes that are anathema to Democrats, including a balanced-budget amendment.
Paul Krugman in his NY Times column today at least points to the hypocrisy of those who cry "OMG! Deficit!" without being willing to address tax increases as part of the 'solution'. Unfortunately, he still manages to accept the framing that says the deficit is the current biggest problem. As I said here last week, good jobs would go a long way to solving a lot of those "deficit problems."

Which all brings me back to Mr. Frum's opinion piece. Jobs. Good jobs. Jobs for the millions of Unemployed. Good jobs for the millions of Underemployed as well. Jobs for all the newly designated "independent contractors" and "self-employed." Good jobs that would increase tax revenues due to the un and underemployed paying the taxes through withholding. Good jobs that would once again bring improved revenues to the Social Security Trust Fund, increasing the surplus there. Good jobs that would allow the millions of un and underemployed to be participating members of society.

No, I'm not going to hold me breath for it to happen.

And because I can:

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