Robert Reich: Category Error

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Slouching Toward a Double Dip, For No Good Reason

Robert Reich

Monday, August 8, 2011

The American economy is on the verge of another recession. Most Americans haven’t even emerged from the last one. Consumers (70 percent of the economy) won’t or can’t spend because their major asset is worth a third less than it was five years ago, they can’t borrow as before, and they’re justifiably worried about their jobs and wages. And without customers, businesses won’t expand and hire. So we’re trapped in a vicious cycle that’s getting worse.

But the government won’t come to the rescue by spending more and cutting most peoples’ taxes because it’s obsessed by a so-called “debt crisis” based on budget projections over the next ten years.

Every time you hear an American politician analogize the nation’s budget to a family budget (as, sadly, even President Obama has done), you should know the politician is not telling the truth. The truth is just the opposite. Our national budget can and should counteract the shrinkage of family budgets by running larger deficits when families cannot.

Americans are more frightened, economically insecure, and angrier than at any time since the Great Depression. If our lawmakers continue to obsess about the wrong thing and fail to do what must be done – and they don’t explain it to the nation – Americans will only become more fearful, insecure, and angry.

Well now wait Bob.  There’s a perfectly good reason (if you happen to be an ignorant Washington neolib like Obama and his advisers) and you know it.

Why the President Doesn’t Present a Bold Plan to Create Jobs and Jumpstart the Economy

Robert Reich

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The lousy economy is due to insufficient demand. Consumers – who are 70 percent of the economy – can’t and won’t buy because they’re running out of cash. They can’t borrow against homes that are worth a third less than they were five years ago, and most consumers are bad credit risks anyway because they’re losing their jobs and their wages are dropping.  They also have to start saving for the kids’ college or for retirement, which will cut their spending even more.

Without enough consumers, businesses won’t hire enough people and pay them enough to reverse the vicious cycle. So we’re dead in the water. Even the stock market has caught on to the truth.

Which means government has to step in to boost the economy – as it has every time the economy has fallen into recession over the last eight downturns. Include the massive spending on World War II that lifted us out of the Great (Depression), and it’s nine.

I’m told White House political operatives are against a bold jobs plan. They believe the only jobs plan that could get through Congress would be so watered down as to have almost no impact by Election Day. They also worry the public wouldn’t understand how more government spending in the near term can be consistent with long-term deficit reduction. And they fear Republicans would use any such initiative to further bash Obama as a big spender.

So rather than fight for a bold jobs plan, the White House has apparently decided it’s politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit. The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama – to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington’s paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it. They hope all this will distract the public’s attention from the President’s failure to do anything about continuing high unemployment and economic anemia.

When I first heard this I didn’t want to believe it.

There’s still time for political operatives in the White House – and the person they work for – to change their minds. If economic stresses increase, Americans may insist on government doing more. A CNN poll released Monday found 60% believe the nation remains in an economic downturn and conditions are worsening. Only 36% believed that in April.

But for now the President is being badly advised. The magnitude of the current jobs and growth crisis demands a boldness and urgency that’s utterly lacking. As the President continues to wallow in the quagmire of long-term debt reduction, Congress is on summer recess and the rest of Washington is asleep.

Well, now you’re getting closer to it Bob, but the reason the Tsar has bad councilors is he picks bad councilors and chooses to listen to their advice because it’s what he himself believes.

The buck stops with Obama and if polls and history are any indicator he’s going to lose, lose, lose and drag his Democratic Party enablers with him.

Electoral victory my ass.


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  1. …a place as any to post a James Howard Kunstler amazogram:

    I’m not convinced that the US bond rating will even matter that much because nobody knows what anything is worth anymore…

    Can be found in his 8/8/11 post:

    Change you don’t have to believe in  

  2. Although Reich says all of the right things (i.e. get more money into the pockets of consumers etc.), he still supports ‘free’ (deregulated) trade. How are we going to get more money into the pockets of US consumers when we’re trading with slave-labor markets without restrictions (i.e. exporting millions of what used to be livable-wage jobs)? Reich likes to bring up the “protectionism” of the 30s. During the 30s, we exported more than we imported, which is why restricting trade was not a good idea then (the opposite of those trade-balance conditions exist now). Reich is a ‘free’ trader, he’ll use any example (even if inapplicable) to carry the water for ‘free’ trade. Although his synaptic pathways don’t quite connect when it comes to trade, he still has more sense than anybody else they’ll let on TV (and that’s pretty sad).

  3. Robert Reich.  Any relation to William Reich of Listen Little Man fame/not fame.

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