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Posts Tagged ‘Economic Stimulus

Robert Reich and Howard Dean. Where are They?

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Robert Reich - Not Treasury Secretary

Robert Reich - Not Treasury Secretary

Howard Dean - Not HHS Secretary

Howard Dean - Not HHS Secretary

Many left-leaning Democrats are asking the same question. Reich would have been a superb choice at Treasury and Dean an obvious choice at HHS. Both are tough, forward-thinking progressive politicians with total command of the briefs in question.  Many people inside and outside the Beltway are surprised that neither man was even in the running. Joe Trippi, a top Democratic consultant who ran Howard Dean’s 2004 Presidential bid, “I think Robert Reich would have been a better appointment than Geithner”.

And there are many others who agree.

So why aren’t they the nominees?

There are many, many reasons.

First, both Robert Reich and Howard Dean are liberals, and that means they don’t mesh with Obama’s all inclusive ‘new politics’ (or centrism as it’s otherwise known). They are mistakenly seen by the White House as skilled ideologues in a post-partisan world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Healthcare Reform IS The Economic Stimulus We Need

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healthcare reform. there is no time to waste

let's hope the ambulance is coming because there is no time to waste

In today’s NYT, Paul Krugman wonders why we haven’t heard more about major healthcare reform in the first few days of the new administration. His concern is that the economic crisis will only make the oncoming healthcare catastrophe that much more severe. It’s a very good point. Krugman surmises that perhaps solving the economic meltdown is dominating the agenda to the exclusion of almost everything else.

But Krugman doesn’t go far enough. What he fails to mention is that solving the healthcare crisis will, over the medium term, will dramatically help overcome America’s deep economic weaknesses.

It goes like this. Regardless of the plan adopted, and it’s most likely to be a build on Obama’s idea of offering a competitive government plan that will release the grip on our healthcare held by profiteering private insurance companies, the new system will have a very significant downward pressure on healthcare costs. Read the rest of this entry »

Federal and State Deficits – Out of Sync

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this 17 carat gold railroad spike was pounded into the ground by Leland Stanford at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869, to commemorate the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads to complete the first Transcontinental Railroad.

This 17 carat gold railroad spike was pounded into the ground by Leland Stanford at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869, to commemorate the joining of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads to complete the first Transcontinental Railroad.

America was built on Infrastructure. Take the Railroad Era, for example. Infrastructure represents a short term economic boost and long term economic investment. Just ask your average railroad baron. So If you agree that infrastructure spending is a keystone of economic recovery in the United States, then you’re likely to agree that, a) both the Federal and State Governments are critical to infrastructure spending, and b) that concerns about the deficits have to take a back seat to economic recovery.

That is clearly already true about the Federal Deficit. We’re going to hit a trillion a year pretty soon, and we’re going to be spending way more. The economy is so bad, and deflation such a risk, that printing money seems like a very attractive option. Sheets of the stuff will be churned out. The Mint will be working overtime.

But what about the states? Many States are constitutionally mandated to balance their budgets, including California. And none of them print their own money. States have to raise money from taxes, borrow it, or sell bonds to finance themselves. The first of these is a nasty option politically, especially during an economic squeeze, the second is tough sledding, and the third is deeply unattractive for investors. Which leaves the States in a terrific crisis. Among the many things that suffer are – guess what, infrastructure projects, the very lifeblood of the Keynesian (boy, is he back with a vengeance) recovery.

Problem? Uhh, yeah. Read the rest of this entry »

After Rampant Consumerism – More Rampant Consumerism

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it ain't easy to kick the habit

it ain't easy to kick the habit

You gotta love economists. In way more complicated language than is necessary, they tell us the party’s over for our free spending ways. It’s time to save. We leveraged ourselves up to the eyeballs for a flat screen TV. It’s time to save. We bet the housing market would go up forever and we were wrong. It’s time to save. We’re all broke. We’re worried about our jobs, we’re upside-down on our houses, our retirement plans are in tatters. Winter’s coming and the recession’s on. The economists tell us it’s time to save.

Of course, that makes fabulous sense economically, but it doesn’t add up spiritually. Did the consumer boom of the last twenty-five years truly change us? I think so. I think it’s in our blood. I think it’s the reason we’re more obese than ever and only as green as is fashionable. Can we go back to our parents’ thrifty ways, when polyester was where it was at, and Wham! a really big deal. I think not. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s Talk About “The System”

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hi, i'm the system

hi, i'm the system

Back in the eighties there was an awful lot of talk about the nefarious “system”, a deep and dark conspiracy of the powerful to keep down the powerless. Before resentment became a tool of the right, it was a clarion call of the unreconstructed left, a youthful, incoherent, but somehow meaningful rallying cry that drove many a drunken, sophomoric conversation. You don’t hear too much about “The System” these days. Nobody seemed to care anymore, when “The System” was delivering them flat screen TVs and great opportunities to flip condos.

But it seems to me that it’s time to revive talk about “The System” because it’s become very clear what it is.

Undiluted socialism for the rich and influential, and the legal and enforcement system to protect it. Read the rest of this entry »