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Archive for Friday, May 11, 2012

Obstructionism

May 11, 2012

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To the editor:

In the run-up to the 2010 congressional election, all we heard from Republicans was, “Mr. President, where are the jobs?” This was enough for Republicans to win back the House of Representatives and make marked gains in the Senate.

With the deeply dysfunctional Senate system, Republicans all but blocked anything put forward by Democrats and President Obama. In the House, something happened on the way to creating jobs: 46 bills on abortion; 113 bills on religion; 73 bills on marriage; 72 bills on firearms; 604 bills on taxation; 467 bills on government investigation, but zero job bills. They also scuttled the American Jobs Act.

What is a Republican Party to do when their eight years in power caused the Second Great Depression? It seems their game plan is to hamstring the Democratic Party from doing anything meaningful, whine about how slow the economic recovery is, and then convince voters that they can do better. God help us.

Comments

Fred Mertz 2 years, 7 months ago

First the dems controlled the Senate andHouse for two years so what is your excuse for Obama during that period? Second where is the budget? The House passes a budget only to be rejected by the Senate. Why is it okay for the Dem controlled Senate to say no?

And if Obama is reflected what will change? Will we have 4 more years of no progress but lots of blaming Bush and the GOP?

grammaddy 2 years, 7 months ago

Because we now know that neither of those are resposible for any of it,huh? Giveme a break. Step away from Faux Noise.

Cait McKnelly 2 years, 7 months ago

Two years to correct one of the most economically devastating and corrupt presidential administrations in US history. (We're talking worse than Warren G. Harding's.) You don't want much in the way of miracles, do you?

John Hamm 2 years, 7 months ago

Let's not forget that every time (two or three) a budget plan was put forth to the president by either party his comment was, "I'll veto it." He doesn't want a budget. It's easier for him to accomplish his goals if Congress is stalled and the Democrats are doing their best to help him out. imho

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

Obama reversed the job losses, and then created job gains, according to the chart I've seen. The passage of the ARRA immediately slowed losses, and then resulted in gains. It's a similar chart to the chart of the Clinton administration and budget deficits.

The economy, in many ways, is better now than when he took office.

As cait and others point out, it takes time to fix things, especially when they've been so seriously broken.

During those two years, they passed numerous things, including regulation of previously unregulated activities that had led to the meltdown.

Please don't misunderstand me - things could be a lot better, and Obama's not perfect by any means. But he's clearly better than McCain/Palin would have been, and better than Romney would be, and that's the only practical question I need to answer to decide who I want to vote for.

asixbury 2 years, 7 months ago

+1. Good job on backing your opinion with facts.

Richard Heckler 2 years, 7 months ago

BRING ON THE EMPLOYMENT = THE GREATEST REPUBLICAN FEAR ON EARTH!!!

RINO’s still control the former republican party. Which is to say “getting in the way” is their favorite tool.

Keep in mind a prospering america can overcome fear mongering.

What is the repub party afraid? Why do they ALWAYS say no?

Repubs are afraid of: a dramatically improved quality of life for all americans

  • Repubs fear Jobs Jobs Jobs for americans

  • Repubs new USA industry thus new wealth for america

  • Repubs fear new cleaner energy sources because it would create so many new jobs and reduce costs across the board

  • Repubs fear Improved Medicare Insurance for All = huge tax dollar savings to government and business

  • Repubs fear Clean Collar Industries which produce jobs that which cannot be outsourced

  • Repubs fear educated Americans because WE ask questions

  • Repubs fear losing of tax incentives/tax breaks for the wealthy that actually create tax increases for entire spectrum of the middleclass

  • Repubs should want a dramatically improved quality of life for all Americans but they keep saying NO

  • Repubs should want Clean air, clean water, clean energy and healthy green space scattered throughout America however they always vote NO

  • Face it a dramatically improved quality of life for all WOULD keep them out of control for decades. Not bad idea. Recall Gov Sam Brownback! Vote Tom Holland into office.

BRING ON THE EMPLOYMENT = THE GREATEST REPUBLICAN FEAR ON EARTH!!!

Flap Doodle 2 years, 7 months ago

"..And there is another type of Caps Lock user who doesn’t capitalize whole sentences but INSTEAD capitalizes a few SPECIFIC words for EMPHASIS. Now read a sentence like that aloud, shouting every time you come to a capitalized word, and tell me you do not sound like an absolute freakin’ lunatic. This method can turn even basic known facts into crazy-sounding gibberish (“The SQUARE of the HYPOTENUSE of a RIGHT triangle equals the SUM of the squares of the OTHER two sides”)...." http://pjmedia.com/blog/tips-for-not-appearing-crazy-on-the-internet/ (from a source)

Flap Doodle 2 years, 7 months ago

It's been more than 3 years since the Democratic-controlled Senate has passed a budget. The MSM yawns and dashes off to talk about Romney's high school days. Something is wrong with this picture.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

Besides, the Dems got their jobs bill. It was called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, $831 billion dollars' worth of investment, stimulus, and skittles-emitting unicorns for everyone. It was a bill so awesome that it managed to save 935 jobs at the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, even though it only employed 508 people. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/33619884/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/t/stimulus-watch-pay-raise-counted-saved-job/

That bill goes a long way toward explaining both sentences of the first paragraph of this letter.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

If you check the jobs chart that's been circulated, you'll see that the ARRA resulted in slowing job losses that had been growing, and then creating increasing job gains.

JackMcKee 2 years, 7 months ago

The only thing worse than Republican obstructionism is when Republicans work together. That's when the real damage happens.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

I agree, except that I don't limit it to Republicans.

rtwngr 2 years, 7 months ago

I would say that the Democrats working together trumps both of those. i.e. Obamacare

asixbury 2 years, 7 months ago

The only part I can see people having a problem with Obamacare is the requirement for everyone to be insured. The rest of that bill is pretty good for the consumer (us).

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

You just don't understand the math. 2008: GOP President + Dem House + Dem Senate = GOP's Fault 2012: Dem President + GOP House + Dem Senate = GOP's Fault 2010: Dem President + Dem House + Dem Senate = GOP's Fault

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

The correct equation is 2001-2007 GOP President + GOP House + GOP Senate = GOP's Fault.

America thanks the Republican Party* for the TSA, Homeland Security, No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, PATRIOT, enormous fiscal deficits, a pair of wars that even Republicans were glad to get out of in the end, expansion in government spending from $1.9 trillion in Clinton's last budget to $3.1 trillion in Bush's last, and lots more. Every Republican who wants to complain about Mr. Obama's spending ought to explain Mr. Bush's spending first.

If we are to be fair, that means that 2008-2010 Dem President + Dem House + Dem Senate = Dems' Fault. However, taking responsibility for the results one's own actions comes naturally to neither parties nor partisans, I'm afraid.

  • They did so in the 2006 election.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

Jafs: "If you check the jobs chart that's been circulated, you'll see..."

Yes, I've seen the numbers*, but that's exactly the point. The Democrats, in blaming Republican "intransigence" ignore the fact that their own program did not work the way they said it would - they did not keep their own promises. To illustrate this, it is only necessary to pick a few quotes from the man whom I think should be Vice President forever:

"The Recovery Act, as we call it, provides a necessary jolt to our economy to implement what we refer as "shovel-ready" projects..." (Joe Biden, March 28, 2009) http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-By-The-Vice-President-At-The-First-Session-Of-The-Progressive-Governance-Conference-in-Vina-del-Mar-Chile/

"And, of course, we also came forward with what we're going to talk about today, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, an initial big jolt to give the economy a real head start." (Joe Biden, June 2, 2009) http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Opening-Remarks-by-the-Vice-President-at-the-Business-Leaders-Roundtable-on-the-Recovery-Act/

In the Veep's words, the Stimulus would 'jolt' the economy back into running on its own. That didn't happen, which is why the Veep later went on to say,

"The care with which we are carrying out the provisions of the Recovery Act has led some people to ask whether we are moving too slowly. But the act was intended to provide steady support for our economy over an extended period — not a jolt that would last only a few months. (Joe Biden, July 26, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/opinion/26biden.html?_r=2

So the first story was that $800+ billion dollars was a jolt. When that did not work, the story became that it was not a jolt, but long-term support. Now it is clear that the long-term support did not work out, either, or there would be no need to complain (as this letter does) about more bills to create jobs.

You can't complain that the other party is keeping you from fixing the economy when your fix for the economy did not fix the economy. If after 4 years, Obama cannot and has not cleaned up the mess left by Bush, then he is obviously not the man for the job. That said, jobs bills do not create jobs, they merely move jobs into areas where it is convenient for government workers to count them. What never gets counted is the jobs destroyed by the continual sucking of capital out of the economy to pay for the debt incurred in the attempt.

  • I don't believe them and can explain the methodological errors that underlie my skepticism, but that's neither here nor there.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

FWIW: Here's the methodological error: "WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The $787 billion fiscal stimulus program approved in February is working pretty much as expected, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday. U.S. employment is about 600,000 to 1.6 million higher, and real gross domestic product is about 1.2% to 3.2% higher than they would have been without the stimulus, CBO said. That estimate is nearly identical to the CBO's assessment in March. The CBO based its estimates on long-standing relationships between additional spending and economic growth, rather than relying on incomplete and inaccurate reports from companies awarded federal contracts." (from a source) http://articles.marketwatch.com/2009-12-01/news/30876901_1_cbo-stimulus-bill-direct-government-spending

Read that paragraph and grok its epic awesomeness, and you'll understand why I am skeptical of all "stimulus" claims, going all the way back to Bush the Elder buying socks in 1992. CBO made an estimate of jobs created in March, 2009. Then they made another estimate in December, 2009. Not only were the estimates identical, they were exactly what was expected when the bill passed. Amazing? Incredible? Nope, merely repetitious.

Here's the secret: "The CBO based its estimates on long-standing relationships between additional spending and economic growth, rather than relying on incomplete and inaccurate reports from companies awarded federal contracts." In other words, when the bill was passed, the CBO estimated how many jobs would be created, based on certain assumptions. In March and December, they estimated how many jobs had been created based on exactly the same assumptions. They then announced that the Stimulus was working "pretty much as expected." How could it not?

Unfortunately, made-up numbers do not become any more authoritative if you put them on a chart.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure I'm quite as cynical as you about that report.

It seems to say to me that the act functioned as predicted, that's all.

You can argue, I suppose with the assumptions of the predictions, but not that it met them.

All of this is very hard to do with a complex economy, and I'm also skeptical about simplistic claims in general.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

"You can argue, I suppose with the assumptions of the predictions, but not that it met them."

I think you missed the point. They made assumptions that spending $x would create y jobs, then based on the fact that they spent $x, assumed y jobs were created. It's not the assumptions that are at issue, but the fact that the results were based wholly on assumptions, not on actual measurements, that is the problem.

It's like me saying that if I spend $x on my kid, he will have a great birthday, then concluding that he had a great birthday not by asking him, but by looking in my wallet.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

That's not how I read it, but I can see why you might think that.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

I won't quibble about the details of what Biden said - if you're arguing that the ARRA didn't work as well as intended to jump-start the economy, that's ok with me.

But it helped quite a bit anyway.

Your next to last paragraph, though, I would strongly disagree with - we had problems stemming from 8 years of a previous administration, culminating with the worst financial meltdown since the Depression.

Expecting this to get fixed in 2 years of D leadership is unreasonable. And, once the 2 years passed (not sure they had a filibuster proof majority for that whole time either), Congress wasn't working with the President.

So, I can certainly conclude that Obama is still the better candidate for the economy, and I have concluded it.

The issue of government spending, and whether or not it helps is a complex one, and can't be decided by a simple statement from either of us. I believe it can help, especially when the private sector isn't hiring, as was the case. Over the long run, if it doesn't stimulate private sector activity, it's not enough for a healthy economy, in my view.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

Whenever money's spent in one way, it's not simultaneously available to be spent in another way, right?

So if I "create a job" by hiring somebody, does that have to be balanced against the other person I didn't hire with the money? Or the money that isn't available to the government to spend?

It's the same with government/private sector job creation, seems to me - if the private sector is using the money to create jobs, great. But, if they're not, and the government is, that's about the same.

I agree that a healthy thriving private sector economy is the goal, but sometimes it's not happening, and I don't see any reason why government spending can't help a bit to get things started. As the folks with jobs spend money, and circulate it in the private sector, that helps bring money into circulation, and would eventually result in more private sector jobs.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

"if the private sector is using the money to create jobs, great. But, if they're not, and the government is, that's about the same."

Except that it's not the same - what the person does is pretty important to our general welfare, and that is generally based on whom they work for. For example, Let's say that I hire a guy to cut down trees and another guy to plant them. At the end of the day I have a ton of lumber. Let's say that I hire a guy to dig holes and another guy to fill them in. At the end of the day, I have merely depreciated my shovels. I have moved money around, but I have gained nothing of value - in fact, I have burned capital.

When private industry hires people, the work those people do, in general, adds value to the economy. Because companies want to make a profit, the work that private workers do generally* adds wood to the woodpile. It would make no sense to hire them for any other reason. Government agencies do not think that way. One could trash the whole Commerce Department and it is quite likely that and the end of the year, no more or less commerce would have taken place. One could toss the entire federal Department of Education, and our kids would likely be no better off or worse (though our teachers would be better off, or at least would have more time off). The government hiring people simply to give them "jobs" generally just burns up our national wealth. It pays people to metaphorically dig holes and fill them in. And we are most likely, even if the government workers are cutting wood and not digging holes, getting less for our money than in the private sector and paying more for it.

If we're just moving money around - the theory behind stimulus and your "spend money, and circulate it" (which is fully in line with the assumptions of mainstream economists and both parties, I'll admit**) - then we are using up our capital. Because the government is already in debt, we are also consuming future capital through future debt payment. Hiring people for government work that does not produce anything of value makes us busier (which is what GDP measures) and it makes us poorer. We could do without both, IMO.

  • I'm using this weasel word because there are plenty of cases where people do not add value, like those who fill out mandated reports or income tax forms, or the CEO's kid who never shows up but gets paid anyway.

** So then you get the argument, well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill. What do you think a stimulus is? That's the whole point. No, seriously. That's the point." -- President Obama

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

I agree that it matters what jobs are created.

But, as you yourself say, unproductive jobs can be created in the private sector, and productive ones can be created by the government.

And, even given your worst case scenario, the guy who's hired to dig holes, and another to fill them in, both of those people will then spend that money and circulate it to productive businesses.

If you had spent it yourself on those, circulating it, then it's about an equal trade, isn't it? If you hadn't, then it's better for the money to circulate, if we want to stimulate the economy.

Best case - the private sector spends money to hire people for productive tasks. Next best, the government does. Next best, the government (or private sector) hires folks for less productive jobs. Worst case, neither the private sector nor the government creates any jobs.

That's where we were headed, I think, before the ARRA.

The debt issue is a bit of a distraction - I'm not arguing that we should go into debt to do this, I'm arguing for using tax revenue to do it. I agree that a large government debt is a bad thing, and I'd like to see us reduce it, rather than increase it.

heygary 2 years, 7 months ago

"... hamstring the Democratic Party from doing anything meaningful ..."

An example of Democratic Party meaningful ...

http://dailycaller.com/2012/05/10/americans-with-disabilities-act-covers-bashful-bladder-syndrome-could-cost-employers-billions/

Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 to protect people with severe handicaps such as blindness, deafness or paralysis. It was updated by the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act (ADAAA) in 2009 to accommodate far more disabilities and now also covers a plethora of other afflictions — including bashful bladder syndrome.

Flap Doodle 2 years, 7 months ago

The sooner the Consumer of Canines in Chief is sent back to his mob-financed Chicago mansion, the better off America will be.

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

Jafs: "we had problems stemming from 8 years of a previous administration, culminating with the worst financial meltdown since the Depression. Expecting this to get fixed in 2 years of D leadership is unreasonable."

Yes, but you don't go far enough. We had problems stemming from rampant credit creation that began in the 70s and went absolutely crazy under GWB. The problem is not that the Democrats could not fix it in 2 years, but that they cannot fix it in 200 years because they are pursuing the same means that the GOP did. The only differences between the Obama Stimulus package of 2009 and the Bush Stimulus are the size and the method by which money would be injected into the economy. But they are both based on the false assumption that money injected into the economy is the solution to a problem ultimately created by too much money being injected into the economy in the first place. We are like a man trying to eat his way out of an obesity epidemic. So since 2007 we have had myriad programs by the Fed and Congress to ramp up debt ("Get banks lending again" is the nomenclature) and none of it fixes the economy. That's because it can't fix the economy, not because we haven't done more of it.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

What's your suggestion?

The economy certainly seemed healthy enough with Clinton on many levels - we had low unemployment, budget surpluses (for the only time in the last 40 years or so), etc.

That credit problem from the '70's didn't seem to be a big problem then.

If you take money out of the economy, that's guaranteed to reduce/eliminate jobs and hurt people, isn't it?

Fossick 2 years, 7 months ago

Speaking of which, since I'm beginning a new contract with the state at month end, and since I fully intend to cut trees for them and not fill holes, I have to bid you all adieu, at least temporarily. It has been a pleasure.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

Sorry to hear that - I've enjoyed our conversations.

Good luck with the new job!

George Lippencott 2 years, 7 months ago

Back in LBJ's time we were not so consumed with a singular solution - he and the Southern Democrats compromised in order to get his major programs through. Virtually nothing went through the way Obama Care did. And oh by the way those Southern Democrats were more effective then the Republicans have ever been in protecting our fiscal interests.

Growing the economy is a good solution. Spending money on infrastructure is very useful. Spending money hiring teachers is not as useful. IMHO it is what you spend money on that is the point. Government employees can chop wood that is then sold and the economy grows. Hiring teachers adds only their salaries to the mix and some people will argue that he multiplier is negative. Perhaps in the long run but stimulus should be in the short run.

Just where did most of Mr. Obama's stimulus go? We have been spending almost a trillion dollars a year on such since he attained office despite Republican opposition! Their only usefullness is in restraining the growth of that spending.

jafs 2 years, 7 months ago

Chopping wood is fine, but teachers are also fine.

Teaching children is a valuable and productive thing to do.

And, teachers will spend their money at various businesses - they might even buy some of that wood.

George Lippencott 2 years, 7 months ago

Of course they are - that is not the point. To stimulate you need to add money to the economy. Raising teacher pay will do that in part but more than likley since teachers are middle class the add went into recovering lost equity in the market and in the home.

The product - smarter kids will not produce a return for about twenty years. The issue is stimulus not contribution.

notaubermime 2 years, 7 months ago

If one's goal is only to provide a ephemeral salve, then you are correct. If one takes a longer view of dwindling participation of natural born citizens in the fields of technology, biomedical, engineering, pharmacology and science (esp. physics, chemistry and CM biology), then now is the time to buffer school districts against the pressures imposed by state and local governments (which are only trying to cover budget gaps).

George Lippencott 2 years, 7 months ago

Of course you are right but stimulus by definition is short term. Education on the other hand stands on its own as an important civic function.

notaubermime 2 years, 7 months ago

True. I think, though, that the immediacy of the situation in which the nation finds itself should not allow us to lose sight of longer term solutions.

I think that perhaps the best question should be one of which industries would we like to encourage the development of and what the companies in those industries need in order to grow in this country. I'm just throwing our random musings here, but perhaps it would have been beneficial to poll the leaders of those companies, then invest in areas in proportion to the answers of the poll.

notaubermime 2 years, 7 months ago

should have been "out random musings" rather than "our random musings"

George Lippencott 2 years, 7 months ago

IMHO stimulus should be directed where it will return immediate ROI. That has been my problem with some of our stimulus investments. IMHO they have gone to loyal political constituencies with long term value but with minimal immediate economic impact.

I would have invested in small businesses through regulatory moratoriums, tax credits for hiring and job creation and direct investment support for immediate implementation of new technologies.

verity 2 years, 7 months ago

"Spending money hiring teachers is not as useful."

Surely you jest. Look what ignorance has wrought in our once great state. Knowledge is the most important currency there is. Without is we are not able to do anything, including making a living. Not to speak of the fact that the salaries go back into the economy.

Armstrong 2 years, 7 months ago

Couldnt be those " jobs " bills were full of tax and spend pork. Are you really creating a job if you buy it ? Standard lame tactic, throw something out that has no possibility of working then blame the R's for obsrtucting progress, laughable and typical D tactic

verity 2 years, 7 months ago

I bark when dogs chase me when I'm embarking on a fruitful endeavor. They put their tail between their legs and scurry away so I can continue my endeavor fruitfully. All bark and no bite.

pooter 2 years, 7 months ago

The only new jobs Obama has created is the obsessive crotch groping of innocent children, the elderly, and handicapped at any nearby airport.

Obama's name doesn't belong on any ballot, it belongs on the National Sex Offender's Registry.

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