Free Markets, Free People
Today’s economic statistical releases:
Initial jobless claims continue to improve slowly, dropping 2,000 this week to 388,000.
Housing starts stayed fairly steady, though off a bit at a 628,000 annual rate. Housing starts, however, jumped to 653,000, a positive sign for future construction.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index for the week improved to -50 from the last week’s -51.6.
The Philadelphia Fed Survey shows growth slowed in the Atlantic region, falling from 8.7 to 3.6.
E-Commerce sales rose 1.9%, following the 2nd quarter’s increase of 2.6%.
Lawrence Korb, who obviously sees defense as the budget cutting device that can save other spending programs, opens his POLITICO piece with this:
Defense is not now — nor was it ever intended to be — a jobs program.
So when an Aerospace Industries Association study — supported, unfortunately, by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) — attempts to warn Congress and the American people that cutting projected defense spending by as much as $1 trillion over the next decade, which might happen if sequestration takes effect, could cost 1 million jobs, the appropriate response is that this is irrelevant.
Actually it’s not irrelevant in the least. Not when you have an administration trying to spend more money on “infrastructure jobs” and touting jobs it has “saved or created”. Not when you have a president who is claiming the national priority is jobs, jobs, jobs.
It isn’t irrelevant at all.
I agree with his essential point and made it myself yesterday. Defense isn’t a “jobs program”. And no one is arguing it is. That doesn’t make the impact of cuts to this particular sector less “relevant”. Again, a million jobs in the middle of a deep recession means more trouble not less. So Korb’s cavalier dismissal of that impact as irrelevant is, well, irrelevant. It’s a false premise.
This isn’t about the jobs, necessarily (although they are important), it is about the future of our national security. As the Air Force generals I quoted yesterday emphasized the decisions made today will have a profound effect in 20 to 30 years. If we cut major defense programs now, we suffer their consequences then. Sure, we’ll see a million jobs go down the drain now. But the short sightedness of huge cuts now really doesn’t have anything to do with jobs. It has to do with a badly degraded national defense in the future.
Korb attempts to use this false premise to sell a trillion dollars in cuts to defense programs and then promises vapor jobs in return:
That $1 trillion can be used to lower our federal debt, which Adm. Michael Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the greatest threat to our national security.
Or it could be used to create at least 2 million new jobs — to replace the 600,000 that could be lost.
Note that Korb claims, with no basis for his claim (after supposedly taking apart the argument that a million jobs will be lost with sequestration cuts) and then blithely hand waves “at least” 2 million new jobs into existence by doing what?
Spending that trillion dollars. That’s worked so well for us in the past 3 years hasn’t it?
And his desire to “create at least 2 million new jobs” to replace those lost tells you what?
That those lost if the cuts to defense are made aren’t irrelevant at all – are they Mr. Korb?
Apparently the public has seen and read enough about Occupy Wall Street to make up its mind that it isn’t something it supports.
According to a Public Policy Polling survey, support for OWS has dropped rapidly as more and more reports detail theft, violence, rape, and all sorts of other anti-social behavior (such as defecating in the street) among its participants.
Only 33% now say that they are supportive of its goals, compared to 45% who say they oppose them. That represents an 11 point shift in the wrong direction for the movement’s support compared to a month ago when 35% of voters said they supported it and 36% were opposed. Most notably independents have gone from supporting Occupy Wall Street’s goals 39/34, to opposing them 34/42.
Note again the all important demographic (independents) in which the big switch has occurred. Democrats who’ve hitched their wagon to OWS should begin deserting it like rats deserting a sinking ship when they see these results.
As for the claim that OWS is more popular than the Tea Party? Yeah, not so much:
Tea Party 43%, Occupy Wall Street 37%. Last month, Occupy Wall Street had a narrow advantage of 40%-37%.
Again the movement with independents is notable- from preferring Occupy Wall Street 43-34, to siding with the Tea Party 44-40.
That said, the issue OWS supposedly represents is still alive and well even if it is a misinformed position:
I don’t think the bad poll numbers for Occupy Wall Street reflect Americans being unconcerned with wealth inequality. Polling we did in some key swing states earlier this year found overwhelming support for raising taxes on people who make over $150,000 a year. In late September we found that 73% of voters supported the ‘Buffett rule’ with only 16% opposed. And in October we found that Senators resistant to raising taxes on those who make more than a million dollars a year could pay a price at the polls. I don’t think any of that has changed- what the downturn in Occupy Wall Street’s image suggests is that voters are seeing the movement as more about the ‘Occupy’ than the ‘Wall Street.’ The controversy over the protests is starting to drown out the actual message.
This is most likely true since most people don’t understand that the economics of earnings isn’t a zero sum game. On the one hand the left has done a good job of selling the idea that income inequality is important and can be solved through higher taxes on the so-called or relatively “rich”.
Of course that’s nonsense. That said, OWS is now more of a detriment than a asset to that cause if this poll is to be believed. And that means the usual thing for politicians with their fingers firmly in the political wind – those who have embraced the OWS protestors will be trying to find a way to desert and then denounce the rabble.
OWS will linger – today they’re going to try to rally in NYC on Wall Street – but I’d argue we’ve seen the movement’s high tide. I will now recede into a mere annoying shadow of itself as support is withdrawn by political figures and organizations. And, of course, you can count on participants getting even more desperate to rally support and I think we all know what that means. More excess, more stupidity, less support.
I say good riddance.