Tag Archives: economic numbers

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Tornadoes rake across the Mid-West. There are several reported deaths.

Federal court in San Antonio has released an interim redistricting plan for Texas. This plan, of course, is set in stone, unless any of the nine parties who were contesting the last plan decide they would like to appeal it. I think this again points out how corrupt, disjointed, confusing and unfair political redistricting has become in this country. This is what you fight for. You fight to be able to control the redistricting maps, which really controls the houses of your state legislature and Congress. You can protect your friends. You can punish or eliminate your enemies through redistricting. We must go to a better system nationwide.

James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, has relinquished his post as executive chairman of News International. This continues to be a big story.

North Korea has agreed to IAEA inspections and a nuclear moratorium. Raise your hand if you’ve read this before.

Economic numbers were revised upward for the fourth quarter.

Fox News continues to peddle sour economic news.

Rick Santorum lost both Arizona and Michigan. I think that he is done.

I’d like to spend just a moment thinking about Rick Santorum’s statement on John F. Kennedy’s classic speech on the separation of church and state. (Complete transcript here.)

Rick Santorum stated that he read the speech on religion and it made him want to “throw up.” He stated, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is antithetical to the objectives and the vision of our country…. ” Now, of course, Rick Santorum was pandering for votes. He was desperate. He was in the final days of trying to rally his troops in Michigan and somehow eke out a victory. He was grasping for straws. Yet, I don’t believe that this excuses such over-the-top rhetoric. Every now and then, we truly need to hold our politicians accountable for what they say. It is clear to me that John F. Kennedy, the former president, wasn’t talking about running the presidency in a moral vacuum. President Kennedy understood, just as you and I understand, that Americans who come from a religious background carry their religious morality with them everywhere. This is a fact of life. The fact that you are cordial and treat others with respect is a reflection of your religious beliefs. The fact that you listen to other points of view or don’t listen to other points of view, again, is a reflection of your religious beliefs. What John F. Kennedy was talking about was central to what was on Americans minds at the time – the president should not answer to the Pope. Although some may laugh now, that was a real fear in 1960. If we elected a Catholic president, it would the same as electing the Pope as president. What John F. Kennedy was talking about was that he was going to be a president for everyone. He wasn’t going to take his marching orders from any religious figure, but that his religious upbringing, his moral character if you will, was still going to be the same. This is a nuanced argument. In 2012, nuanced arguments cannot be distilled down the talking points and bumper stickers so that they are belittled by folks like Rick Santorum. I find it disappointing that more people haven’t taken Rick Santorum the task. To be complete, Rick Santorum has backed away from his original statements.

Congress, we need more

Over the last several months, there’s been some question about the direction of the economy. Was the economy going up, down or nowhere? The economic numbers were grim.

From Robert Reich:

It’s nonsense to think of the economy heading downward again into a double dip when most Americans never emerged from the first dip. We’re still in one long Big Dipper.

More people are out of work today than they were last year, counting everyone too discouraged even to look for work. The number of workers filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week to highest level since February. Not counting temporary census workers, a total of only 12,000 net new private and public jobs were created in July — when 125,000 are needed each month just to keep up with growth in the population of people who want and need to work.

Not since the government began to measure the ups and downs of the busines cycle has such a deep recession been followed by such anemic job growth. Jobs came back at a faster pace even in March 1933 after the economy started to “recover” from the depths of the Great Depression. Of course, that job growth didn’t last long. That recovery wasn’t really a recovery at all. The Great Depression continued. And that’s exactly my point. The Great Recession continues.

Even investors are beginning to see reality. Starting in February the stock market rallied because corporate profits were rising briskly. Investors didn’t mind that profits were coming from payroll cuts, foreign sales, and gimmicks like share buy-backs — none of which could be sustained over the long term. But the rally died in April when investors began to see how paper-thin these profits actually were. And now the stock market is back to where it was at the start of the year.

Yet, in spite of all this evidence, there are no major initiatives coming out of Congress. Every time you turn on the TV, the talking heads are telling you that they don’t want to spend any more money. They’re talking to you about cutting the deficit. It is as if cutting the deficit somehow magically creates jobs. It doesn’t. Cutting the deficit will not spur economic growth in the short term. What we need is jobs, now. We need elected officials to stop working on getting reelected and start working on fixing the economy.

Fix Economy, Then Balance Budget

I spoke with a friend of mine today, a friend I haven’t talked to in a long time. After the pleasantries, the Right Wing nonsense started. Obama is spending too much. Okay, I asked, how much is too much when you have an economy that is capable of generating massive amounts of money? There was no answer. So, for my friends who are budget hawks, I would like to re-post this from several months ago. Enjoy.

The harping of conservatives has become louder and louder over the last couple of weeks over the budget deficit.  They have wrongly stated that Barack Obama spending us into poverty.  There are many analogies that could be used, but the one that I’ll use right now is that our house is on fire.  First, we need to put out the fire.  Secondly, we rebuild the house.

I’ll avoid mentioning the obvious, that these deficit hawks were silent in 2001, 2003 and again in 2004 as President Bush passed massive tax cuts that were not offset by massive spending cuts.  So, these hawks are somewhat hypocritical.  Many of these hawks have looked at some promising economic numbers, and the unemployment rate from last month, and point to an improving economy.  I’m not sure that the unemployment numbers are quite as rosy as we think.  It appears that there is evidence that many of these Americans that are unemployed are now running out of unemployment benefits.  Therefore they cannot seek further jobless benefits.

By the way, where are these jobs coming from? For the past 20 years industry has been cutting jobs and streamlining.  As business returns, why wouldn’t they simply work with a streamlined workforce?  Why wouldn’t they outsource the job, if possible, to somebody in Singapore or Dubai?  With the auto industry shrinking and the economy not expanding, where are these jobs going to come from?  Well, some of the jobs should come from infrastructure rebuilding that we funded through the stimulus package.  Other jobs have to come from this legislation that President Obama spoke about today (See Video).  Green Energy. Congress needs to move on this legislation.  This is critical. We need this industry to produce millions of new jobs.

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I also want to mention that Americans made the same mistake that many conservatives are making now back in 1935-1937.  This was right in the middle of the New Deal.  GDP was increasing.  Unemployment was decreasing.  Deficit hawks began to worry about budget woes.  A poll at the time revealed that a majority of Americans wanted the administration to balance the budget.  Therefore, Roosevelt began to balance the budget.  Predictably, as taxes were increased and government spending decreased, GDP fell and unemployment rose.  It was the exact opposite that budget hawks wanted to happen. President Barack Obama needs to walk the fine line.  He needs to get the economy going but, as the economy begins to heat up, he does need to slow spending.  He does need to balance the budget — after the economy began showing solid signs of recovery.  Our economy has shown an incredible capacity to make money.  We can pay off his debt, but first we need to put out the fire.