Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Where are those 3 layers of editors?

David Cay Johnson seems to think today’s journalism has a huge problem.  And he confirms the “if it bleeds it leads” tendency of the media.  This anecdote illustrates the point:

To understand how badly we’re doing the most basic work of journalism in covering the law enforcement beat, try sitting in a barbershop. When I was getting my last haircut, the noon news on the television—positioned to be impossible to avoid watching—began with a grisly murder. The well-educated man in the chair next to me started ranting about how crime is out of control.

But it isn’t. I told Frank, a regular, that crime isn’t running wild and chance of being burglarized today is less than one quarter what it was in 1980.

The shop turned so quiet you could have heard a hair fall to the floor had the scissors not stopped. The barbers and clients listened intently as I next told them about how the number of murders in America peaked back in the early 1990’s at a bit south of 25,000 and fell to fewer than 16,000 in 2009. When we take population growth into account, this means your chance of being murdered has almost been cut in half.

“So why is there so much crime on the news every day?” Diane, who was cutting Frank’s hair, asked.

“Because it’s cheap,” I replied. “And with crime news you only have to get the cops’ side of the story. There is no ethical duty to ask the arrested for their side of the story.”

Cheap news is a major reason that every day we are failing in our core mission of providing people with the knowledge they need for our democracy to function.

That’s reason one.  Reason two?  Something I’ve been critical of for some time:

I ran upstairs and bought The Philadelphia Inquirer, where I worked for seven years. Buried inside I found a half column about the new budget for Montgomery County, the wealthiest and most important county for the newspaper’s financial success. The story was mostly about the three commissioners yelling at each other. The total budget was mentioned, almost in passing, with no hint of whether it meant property taxes would go up or down, more money would be spent on roads or less, or any of the other basics that readers want to know.

For this I paid money? I could only imagine the reaction of the residents of Montgomery County.

[…]

Far too much of journalism consists of quoting what police, prosecutors, politicians and publicists say—and this is especially the case with beat reporters. It’s news on the cheap and most of it isn’t worth the time it takes to read, hear or watch. Don’t take my word for it. Instead look at declining circulation figures. People know value and they know when what they’re getting is worth their time or worth the steadily rising cost of a subscription.

I’m convinced one of the reasons for the rise of blogs is the decline of journalism into what Johnson calls “cheap journalism”.  During elections we get the horserace coverage – the sensational, the quotes, etc. – but we rarely get even basic coverage of the issues.

My guess is editors would claim that no one is interested in the “in depth” coverage of issues, but I’d counter by saying that the popularity of blogs who do exactly that would seem to contradict the claim.

Johnson’s revelation about what is going on in the media comes from his own specific experience:

During the past 15 years as I focused my reporting on how the American economy works and the role of government in shaping how the benefits and burdens of the economy are distributed, I’ve grown increasingly dismayed at the superficial and often dead wrong assumptions permeating the news. Every day in highly respected newspapers I read well-crafted stories with information that in years past I would have embraced but now know is nonsense, displaying a lack of understanding of economic theory and the regulation of business. The stories even lack readily available official data on the economy and knowledge of the language and principles in the law, including the Constitution.

What these stories have in common is a reliance on what sources say rather than what the official record shows. If covering a beat means finding sources and sniffing out news, then a firm foundation of knowledge about the topic is essential, though not sufficient. Combine this with a curiosity to dig deeply into the myriad of documents that are in the public record—and then ask sources about what the documents show.

Note his point – lack of research, lack of knowledge, reliance on “what sources say” and the acceptance of what they say as gospel.

That’s not journalism, that’s the journalistic equivalent of re-printing press releases.  And, given all the grousing about bloggers by many in the media, I have to ask, “where are the editors”?  How did what Johnson reports become the norm that editors okay for publication?  Who’s establishing and enforcing the standards of journalism if not the editors?

These are the folks that used to control what was fed to the news hungry population in the past – a control they exercised because of the cost of entry into the market.  Now, with the internet and the democratization of publishing, they have competition from an unanticipated direction and it is indeed showing their weaknesses (and biases).  In any market, if a need goes unfulfilled, someone will fill it.  It just took the internet to remove that high bar to entry to prove the point.   If they wonder why circulation and viewership numbers are down, Johnson’s criticism is one of the major reasons for their decline.

~McQ

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Here’s a surprise–111th Congress has worst job approval rating since ratings began

Yeah, I know – you’re just downright shocked, aren’t you?

That’s what you get for doing the party’s business instead of the people’s business.

Here’s what Gallup had to say about their poll results:

Americans’ assessment of Congress has hit a new low, with 13% saying they approve of the way Congress is handling its job. The 83% disapproval rating is also the worst Gallup has measured in more than 30 years of tracking congressional job performance.

Frankly I think its rated too high at 13%.  Their performance has been abysmal.  And while I understand that we’ve had a financial crisis and are in a recession (or out of it, or … whatever) with high unemployment, it really doesn’t matter.  This Congress has done things that have received almost universal condemnation and has gone places where the American people clearly and forcefully said they didn’t want them.

Why wouldn’t they be at 13%.  And, as of today, they’re attempting to drive that rating even lower with their shenanigans.

There are a couple polls that left me shaking my head.  There’s an Washington Post-ABC poll that claims:

In the new poll, just 41 percent of respondents say the GOP takeover of the House is a "good thing." About 27 percent say it is a "bad thing," and 30 percent say it won’t make any difference. Most continue to say that the Republicans in Congress are not doing enough to compromise with Obama on important issues.

Except the GOP hasn’t taken over the House yet.  We’re stuck with the rump 111th Congress.  So I’m not really sure of the relevance of this poll.  Seems to me that regardless of who does or doesn’t think the GOP’s coming takeover of the House is a “good thing” or not really doesn’t matter.  It’s an opinion expressed without anything to base it in except, well, conjecture.  And of course the last sentence is nonsense since the present Congress is majority Democrat. 

Andrew Malcolm got a bit of a amusement from it as well:

With Republicans still 20 days away from taking control of one chamber of Congress, the House of Representatives, the Washington Post could no longer resist delivering the polling news that Americans are not yet convinced the GOP is the party for them.

The bold headline: "Public is not yet sold on GOP"

Imagine, waiting for the 63 new House Republicans to actually take the oath on Jan. 4 and perhaps find their seats before polling on what dismal failures they are. With Democrats controlling merely the presidency and the Senate, the newly elected Republicans have yet to accomplish a single meaningful thing. And clearly the public knows it.

There you go – the worst Congress in history trying to drive their approval rating even lower than it is now and WaPo/ABC are polling  and “analyzing” stuff that hasn’t even happened yet.

Yeah, we’re well served by today’s media (and all those editors), aren’t we? About as well as we’ve been screwed served by the 111th Congress.

~McQ

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The return of the monster 2,000 page debt-fueled bill

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nyone who remembers the recent passage of ObamaCare remembers the size of the bill – over 2,000 pages – and the fact that almost no one knew what was included in its pages.  Nancy Pelosi infamously said, “we’ll have to pass the bill to find out what’s in the bill”.

There was very little if any debate on the bill and it ended up being rammed through Congress under the reconciliation process.   We’re still finding out all of the little poison nuggets in that mess of a law.

Then November shows up and the American pubic spanks the Democrats for doing business the way they did, taking away 63 seats and a majority in the House in a bloodbath of an election.  Quit spending like drunken sailors and focus on jobs and the economy the people said.

And the Democrats learned what?  Nary a freakin’ thing.  They’ve never passed a budget for government this year in Congress – one of its main functions – but instead have passed a series of continuing resolutions to keep it funded.  That last continuing resolution is about to run out and – back up to their old tricks — Congressional Democrats have advanced a 2,000 page, 1.1 trillion dollar omnibus spending bill that is designed to fund government (and lard out the pork) through 2011.

Instead of bringing up a straight spending bill that funds government at its current levels (or, here’s an idea, maybe 2008 levels so they could show the American people they’re serious about cutting spending?  Nah.), we get 1.1 trillion in pork, payoffs and profligacy.

Same old Democrats doing the same old thing as though November never happened.

And they’re not alone:

Despite strong opposition from Thune and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), several Senate Republicans are considering voting for the bill.

“That’s my intention,” said retiring Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) when asked if he would support the package.

Bennett said earmarks in the bill might give some of his GOP colleagues reason to hesitate but wouldn’t affect his vote.

“It will be tough for some, but not for me,” he said.

GOP Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.), George Voinovich (Ohio) and Susan Collins (Maine) also told The Hill on Tuesday they would consider voting for the omnibus but want to review it before making a final decision.

And there you have it.  If Bennett wonders why he’s soon to be unemployed, it couldn’t be more plainly obvious than his remarks about this.  And as for the other “usual suspects”, apparently they don’t much care about the November message either (and if you happen to have one of those people as your Senator, you might want to remind them of that message).

This is the “business as usual” nonsense that has to stop and stop now.  This Congress has all but abrogated its budget responsibilities for the entire year and now, on the eve of a government shutdown and the end of their session, they decide to act. But not with a continuing resolution to keep essential government services funded until the new Congress can meet to take up the budget, but with a 2,000 page pork laden, 1.1 trillion debt-fueled monstrosity that will be allowed little debate and passed without most knowing what the hell they’re voting for.  On that principle alone, I’d vote “no”.  “No” until I can read and consider the bill, debate it, amend it and do what is supposed to be done before passing legislation.

There are a few things that have leaked out concerning what is in the bill:

The 1,924-page bill includes funding to implement the sweeping healthcare reform bill Congress passed earlier this year as well as additional funds for Internal Revenue Service agents, according to a senior GOP aide familiar with the legislation.

Obviously that doesn’t cost “1.1 trillion”, so there’s an awful lot more (I wonder if the IRS agents mentioned are those whose job it will be to enforce health insurance compliance through the tax system?).

So here we are again, faced with a debt-fueled, pork laden 1.1 trillion dollar last spending fling by Democrats and you have 4 Republican Senators thinking about supporting this nonsense in contravention of the will of the people.  For those like Bennett, Bond and Voinovich (both of the latter  I believe are retiring) there’s probably nothing that can be done to punish them or change their mind.  That’s the problem with the lame duck session of a Congress.  And it is, as I’ve pointed out before, a major problem.  There is no accountability mechanism for those who’ve been defeated or are retiring so they can do pretty much what they wish.  This is their last fling and they’re going to go out as they’ve always been – earmark addicts and debt spending fanatics who really don’t give a rip about what Americans have said they want. 

Collins, of course, is always ready to side with those who spend like fools and have gotten us in the shape we’re in.  And unfortunately Maine GOP voters have yet to ensure Collins understands their new priorities.  She’s not up for re-election again until 2014.  With that cushion and no apparent pressure from her constituency, she appears to feel free to proceed as usual.  However, we can’t afford “as usual” anymore.

Many think that stopping this bill and insisting that it be a clean, clear continuing resolution to fund government is a priority.  I’d be one of those.  But the GOP worries that if it does so, and government gets shut down right before the holidays, they’ll be blamed and suffer for it as they did when Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton went toe-to-toe one year over spending and shutting down government.

I’m not so sure, given the current conditions, that Democrats would enjoy the same wide-spread support now that they did then.  Not given the midterms, not given the message very forcefully sent by the electorate and certainly not given this deficit building monstrosity of a bill being considered.

~McQ

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“No Labels”? Seems more like the “mushy middle” to me?

If you don’t have any principles it’s pretty easy to “get things done”.  You just compromise on everything, never take a stand and presto, you have a mess of epic proportions.

That seems to be exactly what this latest astroturf project called “No Labels” is all about.  No more “hyperpartisanship”.  “Let’s get things done!”

On display at their roll out was the “Who’s Who” of the mushy middle:

And its speakers—who ranged from Republican moderates like ex-Virginia Rep. Tom Davis to liberal Democrats like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand—sang the praises of cooperation and compromise.

But the only Republicans present at Columbia University’s modern, square Alfred Lerner Hall seemed to be those who had recently lost primary races, such as South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis and Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, or former Republicans like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. No other senior elected Republican officials were in attendance, though a range of Democrats were present, some of them seeming a bit mystified by the bipartisan cast of the event, like the reliably liberal Gillibrand, and others whose clashes with unions – like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Newark Mayor Cory Booker – have put some distance between them and their parties.

One little ironic note – one of the co-founders, John Avlon is the author of a book called "Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America." Most who’ve spent more than a day in the blogosphere know that "wingnuts" is a lefty euphemism for just about anyone on the right they disagree with. The right uses "moonbats" in the same way. I’m sure Mr. Avalon, who was a Rudi Giuliani staffer, was just using the term, uh, "interchangeably" (*cough, cough*). And if so, one can only assume he’s referring to the fringe which actually believes in something enough to fight for it messing up the "No Labels" group’s "compromise till you drop/let’s get things done" mantra. Or is it "compromise till we’re broke". Oh, wait …

And, as the POLITICO notes, what few Republicans were there were losers in their most recent attempt at gaining public office.

Any guess as to why?

Last and certainly not least (well, except in most rating books) the event was hosted by MSNBC which has been looking for its own sort of "tea party" org to which it can hitch it’s wagon.

The events were moderated by MSNBC personalities Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Dylan Ratigan, and Michael Smerconish. If Fox News seemed to be associated with the Tea Party, then No Labels was an MSNBC affair.

Bingo. If you can’t beat them at the same game, play the game on astroturf.

Yup – in today’s world standing and fighting for your principles is called "hyperpartisanship" and the mushy middle just isn’t going to stand for it anymore. And if you don’t quit it, they’re just going to have to call you names, stomp their feet and hold their breath. Oh, and sing their new anthem at you.

Meanwhile some t-shirt designs shown at the opening rally appear to have been ripped off without permission. Compromise that.

~McQ

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Constitutional? How can any seriously think ObamaCare’s mandate isn’t Constitutional?

That is precisely the take that Josh Marshall and much of the left have, amusingly, expressed:

A year ago, no one took seriously the idea that a federal health care mandate was unconstitutional. And the idea that buying health care coverage does not amount to "economic activity" seems preposterous on its face.

I’m not sure how Marshall actually believes "no one" took seriously the idea that the health care mandate was unconstitutional, unless he really means "no one who matters". And even then he’s wrong. So let’s boil it down to its real meaning – no one on the left, who consistently ignore the Constitution and matters relating to constitutionality, took the idea seriously.

I’m shocked – shocked I tell you.

Obviously a whole lot of people in the middle and on the right took it very seriously.  So much so that at least a plurality of states have initiated law suits against it and/or passed laws rejecting it.

Marshall also claims that the “idea that buying health care coverage does not amount to "economic activity" seems preposterous on its face.”  Uh, OK, who exactly is claiming that?  What is being discussed is not buying insurance.  And the decision to not buy something has nothing to do with “economic activity” does it?  So let’s turn Marshall’s sentence around: “the idea that not buying health care coverage does amount to “economic activity” seems preposterous on its face”.

Yes, I would agree – and so did Judge Hudson.

Speaking of Judge Hudson, Richard Epstein gives a pretty good summary of the key point in his ruling:

The key successful move for Virginia was that it found a way to sidestep the well known 1942 decision of the Supreme Court in Wickard v. Filburn, which held in effect that the power to regulate commerce among the several states extended to decisions of farmers to feed their own grain to their own cows.  Wickard does not pass the laugh test if the issue is whether it bears any fidelity to the original constitutional design.  It was put into place for the rather ignoble purpose of making sure that the federally sponsored cartel arrangements for agriculture could be properly administered.

At this point, no District Court judge dare turn his back on the ignoble and unprincipled decision in Wickard.  But Virginia did not ask for radical therapy.  It rather insisted that “all” Wickard stands for is the proposition that if a farmer decides to grow wheat, he cannot feed it to his own cows if a law of Congress says otherwise.  It does not say that the farmer must grow wheat in order that the federal government will have something to regulate.

It is just that line that controls this case.  The opponents of the individual mandate say that they do not have to purchase insurance against their will.  The federal government may regulate how people participate in the market, but it cannot make them participate in the market.  For if it could be done in this case it could be done in all others.

Read all of Epstein’s opinion piece by the way.  There’s a lot more to this than just the point I made and he explains it very well.  The usual suspects  disagree.

Anyway, assuming this somehow stands and makes it to the Supreme Court, where after a good breakfast and a good night’s sleep Justice Anthony Kennedy decides “what the hell,  Judge Hudson is right” and the court rules the mandate unconstitutional, what would be the ramifications?

E21 covers some of those for us:

Without the individual mandate, the whole Obamacare edifice crumbles. The judge did not rule that the entire law must be invalidated. But if the individual mandate goes, the insurance regulations — and most especially the requirement that insurers must take all comers without regard to their health status — will never work. Patients could simply wait to enroll in health coverage until they needed some kind of expensive treatment or procedure, and thus pocket the premiums they would have paid when they were not in need of much medical attention.

Or said more simply – without the mandate the whole of the law is unworkable.  Without the mandate, repeal will seem to be the best option.

Oh, and watch the GOP on that point.  When it was first passed, all I heard was “repeal, repeal”.  Now I’m hearing “repeal and replace”.  Uh, no – no “replace”.  Fix the government side of things that are in such horrendous shape and driving the cost of health care up, but stay out of people’s private insurance. 

And should repeal actually happen the insurance industry better get their heads out of their posterior and get busy finding ways to insure more people more cheaply (like creating products where employers could indeed move their workers to that would be outside the work place making insurance portable (thus no “pre-existing conditions”), affordable (large pool) and deliver quality care.   Because, as is obvious, if they don’t someone will again try to do it for them.

~McQ

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Michelle Obama “We can’t just leave it up to the parents”

That’s a quote from Michelle Obama during the signing of the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act.  It is also a quote out of context.   So let’s be fair – here’s the entire quote:

“But when our kids spend so much of their time each day in school, and when many children get up to half their daily calories from school meals, it’s clear that we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well,” Mrs. Obama said. “We can’t just leave it up to the parents.  I think that parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won’t be undone each day in the school cafeteria or in the vending machine in the hallway.  I think that our parents have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards.”

Unlike it is being characterized in some places, she’s essentially claiming it is the job of government to aid parents in ensuring that children are properly fed at school.

Hate to be a party pooper, but in reality it isn’t the job of any government our founders envisioned.   It is a job that government has assumed because a) it put itself in charge of schools and b) it decided it had to feed children while they are at school.

In fact, as benign as you may consider that, it is just another indication of the creeping reach of government.  Michelle Obama is using the force of law to do what she and the legislators who approved this bill have decided constitutes “good nutrition” regardless of what parents think.  The fact that it may actually be “good nutrition” and a benefit doesn’t change the fact that parents wishes or desires aren’t a part of this at all. 

In fact, what most parents think they have a “right” to is deciding what their children will or won’t do, eat, participate in or undergo.  Somehow government constantly wedges its way into this “right” and attempts to usurp a lot of those decisions.  And it is when it finally establishes that position of power that it begins banning things like bake sales in schools and the like.

I know that most are going to view this law as a “good thing”.   But looking at the following, you tell me what say parents are going to have concerning this program:

The law increases spending on school nutrition programs by $4.5 billion over ten years and encompasses a range of provisions, including offering qualified children breakfast, lunch and dinner at school, as well as meals during the summer. It also includes a pilot program for “organic foods.”

No one wants hungry or malnourished children.  But for the most part, given the other food programs that are available to single mothers and low income families, I would guess the problem is vastly overstated.  This is feel good legislation that lets the do-gooders pat themselves on the back and adds yet another layer of government intrusiveness.  It also assumes more and more responsibility for the children of others while requiring less from the parents.  In essence, and as we all know, there is going to be a certain segment of the population that abrogates their responsibility to feed their children – when they’re perfectly capable of doing it — to take advantage of such a program when in fact they could (and should) shoulder the responsibility themselves (not to mention the bonding benefits of the “family dinner”).  And it thus becomes just another dependency welfare program at that point.

People who agree with this sort of interventionist government program are going to claim the usual – $4.5 billion is but a drop in the budgetary bucket and it is “for the children”. 

Of course it takes many drops to fill a bucket, and no one said creeping tyranny wouldn’t come cloaked is seemingly benign programs.  Personal responsibility, of course, is not one of the virtues this sort of a program encourages.  And that is a virtue that government should be stressing instead of further inserting itself in our lives.

~McQ

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Boom! Flap, flap, flap … ObamaCare has a flat (update)

I’ve been waiting on this one and today a US District Judge in Virginia issued his ruling about  ObamaCare:

A federal judge in Virginia has declared the Obama administration’s health care reform law unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson is the first judge to rule against the law, which has been upheld by two others in Virginia and Michigan.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli filed the lawsuit challenging the law’s requirement that citizens buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014.

He argues the federal government doesn’t have the constitutional authority to impose the requirement.

I’m not sure the AP description is entirely accurate.  I believe he ruled only the individual mandate was unconstitutional.  However, I don’t believe he ruled the entire law unconstitutional. 

Here’s Bloomberg’s report:

U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Virginia, said today that the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health-care legislation goes beyond Congress’s powers to regulate interstate commerce. While severing the coverage mandate, which was to become effective in 2014, Hudson didn’t address other provisions such as expanding Medicaid.

Hudson, appointed by President George W. Bush found the minimum essential coverage provision of the act “exceeds the constitutional boundaries of congressional power.”

Regardless, if the ruling stands, it cripples ObamaCare.  The mandate is one of the principle ways that the administration and Democrats “justified” the cost of the law.   And by the way:

Constitutional scholars said unless Congress changes the law, its fate on appeal will probably hinge on the views of the U.S. Supreme Court’s more conservative members.

Hello lame duck Congress?   That’s not going to happen in the 111th and it certainly won’t happen 112th.

Oh, this is going to be fun to watch.   More to come as it continues breaking.

UPDATE:  Pertaining to the “severability” argument put forward in the comment section, Judge Hudson said specifically when talking about the individual mandate:

"The Court will sever only Section 1501 [the individual mandate] and directly-dependent provisions which make specific reference to 1501.

 

~McQ

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Deciphering Paul Krugman’s latest message

Get your “Captain Krugman” decoder rings out and follow me through this Paul Krugman piece.

Today the line of attack on what he calls the “Obama-McConnell tax cut deal ” is to put forward the argument that the reason we’re in this mess to begin with is because of the debt carried by American families. Yes, that’s right – you did it, now shut up and take the medicine. Oh and the banks – yes, the banks because they “abandoned any notion of sound lending and because everyone assumed housing prices would never fall”.

Yeah, you guessed it  – not a thing about the Community Reinvestment Act, Congressional pressure on banks to lend to very marginal borrowers or Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  It was you, dear citizen … and the banks.  The government?  Sparkly clean by omission.

Anyway, because that debt is so high in relation to income and the families are in the middle of trying to deleverage that debt, they’re not spending much – or as much as is needed to kick start the economy, in Krugman’s opinion (they might if they had more but then that means even deeper tax cuts and Krugman ain’t going there).  And of course there’s that problem with high unemployment to factor in as well.

So, backing into this favorite theme of the past two years (Deficit?  Screw the deficit – spend, spend, spend), what or who should be spending to get the economy going?

Why yes Sparky, he means the government.

What the government should be doing in this situation is spending more while the private sector is spending less, supporting employment while those debts are paid down. And this government spending needs to be sustained: we’re not talking about a brief burst of aid; we’re talking about spending that lasts long enough for households to get their debts back under control. The original Obama stimulus wasn’t just too small; it was also much too short-lived, with much of the positive effect already gone.

It’s true that we’re making progress on deleveraging. Household debt is down to 118 percent of income, and a strong recovery would bring that number down further. But we’re still at least several years from the point at which households will be in good enough shape that the economy no longer needs government support.

But wouldn’t it be expensive to have the government support the economy for years to come? Yes, it would — which is why the stimulus should be done well, getting as much bang for the buck as possible.

Remember that last phrase because that’s the point of the post.  Now, with all of that background, Krugman says that this “Obama McConnell tax cut deal” will provide some stimulus but not the sustained stimulus Krugman says is needed from government.  And that first stimulus was too small – even though it was much larger than Krugman said was necessary at the time.  Nope  a massive stimulus is still needed no matter what we have to do to pump that money out there (even while the Fed is trying to sponge up the multi-trillion dollar spill of cash they tossed out there before):

The point is that while the deal will cost a lot — adding more to federal debt than the original Obama stimulus — it’s likely to get very little bang for the buck. Tax cuts for the wealthy will barely be spent at all; even middle-class tax cuts won’t add much to spending. And the business tax break will, I believe, do hardly anything to spur investment given the excess capacity businesses already have.

This is the point where cognitive dissonance smacks right into the Krugman “reasoning”.  A) he wants a new and much bigger stimulus – that’s no secret.  B) he claims this bit of stimulus (tax cut deal) will “cost” more (deficit) than it will deliver (bang for buck).  C) you can’t be trusted (shades of Clinton) to spend your own money the way the government would (perfectly, of course – properly, with no waste, and at exactly the right time and in the right place – having a coughing fit yet?).

For such a supposedly gifted economist it is like he missed Econ 101 in favor of Propaganda 101.  Either that or he really does believe, in the face of much evidence to the contrary, that a government spending money in a recession always returns “more bang for the buck” than does an individual (millions of individuals) in a market being allowed to keep and spend more of his money.  I am forever at a loss to explain that sort of thinking.

Pushing money out into an economy just to be getting it out there isn’t going to solve our economic problems.   In fact, if government has to be the big consumer of loan money to do so, guess what there’s less of for the private side of things?  Can you say “vicious circle”?And what does Krugman think a pure borrowing-based second stimulus plan is going to do to the debt?  Given the “bang for the buck” we received with the last stimulus, what makes Krugman think this one would be a better deal and superior to letting people keep more of their own money?

What I expect, instead, is that we’ll be having this same conversation all over again in 2012, with unemployment still high and the economy suffering as the good parts of the current deal go away.

The long and short of it is, this about isn’t economics, it’s about politics.  What Krugman wants is anything he can call economic improvement because he knows that Obama and the Democrats are in awful political shape.  His belief is if the Obama administration will quickly pass a huge stimulus and pump money into the economy, things will look somewhat better than they do now and he can make rosy predictions that should help carry the day for Obama’s re-election in 2012.  If it all collapses after that, who cares?  There will be plenty of time to make stuff up on the fly again and, of course variously blame the Republicans, the American people and, of course, the banks for any problems the economy may suffer.

~McQ

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Bernie Sanders–“when is enough enough?”

Yes, our token socialist (declared socialist that is), during his filibuster of maintaining the current tax rates (i.e. calling for a tax increase), asks the question of the “crybaby rich” – “when is enough enough?”

He goes on to lambast the “rich” for being “greedy” and “addicted”.  Here, listen for yourself:

But, in fact, who is the “crybaby” here?  Who is “greedy” one calling for more and more money that he hasn’t earned and can only get by taking it from those who have?  Who is it who is “addicted” to spending and refuses to acknowledge it, instead projecting all of his vices on those who actually work to earn their riches?

This sort of class warfare is destructive.  Both literally and figuratively.  Primarily it attempts to set the rest of America against those the Bernie Sanders of this world arbitrarily designate as “rich”.  The purpose of such attacks is to dehumanize them and rationalize taking their money without guilt.  It is also designed to deflect the issue to a lack of revenue vs. an addiction to spending and an outright greed for other people’s money.

And those who parrot the line that this will “cost” the government x amount of money are just as guilty.  This isn’t costing the government one red cent.  This is about keeping the tax rates we’ve had for over a decade current.  Anticipated revenue based in a hoped for change in the tax rates is not a “cost”.  Spending anticipated revenues before they’re authorized or collected isn’t a “cost” either – it’s a criminal breech of the public trust and addiction that needs to be stopped immediately.   We aren’t in the fiscal shape we’re in from a lack of revenue – we’re in the shape we’re in because people like Sen. Bernie Sanders have spent other people’s money recklessly and without a thought to the future. And it turns out they’ve hocked our future and the future of our children and grandchildren through their profligate behavior. It is they who are the problem – not the "rich".  It is we, the people of the United States who should be asking of Bernie Sanders, “when is enough enough”?  The answer is “you had enough a long time ago and you’ll get no more – from anyone”.

If anyone is a crybaby, addicted and greedy, it is the man in the video.  And it is men and women like him who need to be run out of DC post haste.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 12 Dec 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the Obama Tax Compromise, and its repercussions this week.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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