Archive for austerity – Page 2

Bikini Graph time! Unemployment rate reaches lowest point in nearly 5 years


bikini itsy bitsy

It’s time to bring back the Bikini Graph! As always, red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration. And today we get a bonus graph, courtesy of the wonderful Steve Benen:

graph chart unemployment Obama benen Maddow

Incidentally, the other main Republican talking point on jobs for much of Obama's first term was that the net total of jobs gained on the president's watch is zero. It was always a ridiculous argument -- it was predicated on the assumption that Obama deserved the blame for the jobs lost a couple of weeks after his inauguration -- but it looks even sillier now. To date, the net gain for jobs under Obama is about 2.1 million overall and nearly 2.8 million in the private sector.

And here are the Bikini Graphs. The Maddow Blog has more details. Benen starts by calling the jobs report "underwhelming" because the 162,000 jobs added in July were below expectations. However, there was a glimmer of positive news, too:

bikini graph August 2013 overall

bikini graph August 2013 private sector

In a rare sight, public-sector layoffs were not a drag on the overall totals -- the private sector added 161,000 jobs, while the public sector added 1,000 jobs. (In recent years, the public sector ordinarily sheds several thousand jobs per month). The overall unemployment rate dropped to 7.4%, but largely because of people leaving the workforce. [...]

We're steadily adding jobs every month at rates above population growth, but we're seeing neither a hiring boom nor a deteriorating employment landscape. It's just ... leveled off.

Money quote (no pun):

Republican leaders remain committed to sequestration cuts that are holding back job creation on purpose, and are focused primarily on spending bills that punish those already struggling.

I made similar points here: Boehner wants Pres. Obama to destroy a growing economy.

So far this year, 1.34 million jobs were added overall, 1.37 million in the private sector.


Boehner wants Pres. Obama to destroy a growing economy


John Boehner

chart budget deficit shrinks 4 year low Steve Benen Maddow Blog Oct 2012

chart debt changes under bush obama deficit via Ezra Klein

John Boehner is obsessed with grinding a slow-growing (key word: growing) economy to a halt, but certainly not because it's good for America. Nonono, it's because it's bad for Obama. Gotta make the president appear inept, gotta make him look like a failure, gotta ruin his legacy. Priorities, priorities...

President Obama and Democratic lawmakers have tied themselves in knots trying to push this country along, rebuild a crumbling infrastructure, pull Americans out of poverty, and grow the so-called middle class. But there The Boehner is, demanding that the White House cave to his unreasonable and irrational demands for more spending cuts, despite the fact that austerity does not work:

European leaders begin to realize austerity is crippling nations. Gee, ya think?

And: Krugman, take a victory lap: University Grad Student Debunks Major Austerity Theory by Exposing Flawed Stats.

And: Researchers: Austerity is “having a devastating effect on health in Europe and North America, driving suicide.”

And: In other news, IMF says Europe austerity strategy is dragging down global growth.

The deficit has been cut a lot already, and too quickly, resulting in unemployment for hundreds of thousands of public sector employees. Cutting isn’t the answer, jobs are, rebuilding our infrastructure is:

May 20 (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund on Monday said the United States was getting carried away with a government austerity drive, offering some of the institution's bluntest criticism yet of Washington's rush to cut its budget deficit. [...] A drop in federal spending led the economy to barely expand in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Of course, Boehner had to go exactly where he always goes: Blame Obama.

Via Roll Call:

Sequestration is going to remain in effect until the president agrees to cuts and reforms that will allow us to remove it,” the Ohio Republican said to reporters in his weekly news conference. “The president insisted on the sequester none of us wanted, none of us like it, there are smarter ways to cut spending..."

But, per Think Progress: The Devastating Spending Cuts That Were Too Much For House Republicans To Swallow.

I still have to ask: Hey GOP, how’s that rebranding thing workin’ for ya?

blame obama


How's That Austerity Doing, Boehner?


the great depression

The Great GOP plan to lead us out our economic mess, one of their own making, was austerity. Sounded good to some on paper, but then the Democrats put a cautious eye to the numbers and discovered it was wrong. It would do more harm than good. But the Republicans and their blind crowd only paid attention to one paper, the one by Harvard professions of economics. It was the Reinhart and Rogoff's research paper.

But the GOP, the party of big business had the upper hand in votes and got some, not all, of their way. Europe wasn't so fortunate. They fell for the US Republican plan hook, line and sinker. Out came the cleaver and cut, cut, cut. So how did that turnout? Sinker.

According to business section of the HuffPo:

In the U.K., austerity has shaved 6 percent from that country's gross domestic product over the past three years, estimates Oxford economist Simon Wren-Lewis. This amounts to $143.5 billion in lost income during that time, or nearly $5,400 per U.K. household.

Italy's debt recently crossed 130 percent of GDP, a new record.

Greece's economy is so weak that it will likely fail to meet its creditors' targetsfor growth, raising the risk that it could default on its debts.

The yield on Portugal's 10-year bond shot past 8 percent on Monday, a red line that in the past has signaled a country is about to need another bailout. High interest rates make it even harder for governments to pay back their creditors.

Summation. It sucked. These countries are reeling on the precipice of disaster. If they could do it over again, they would love to, only not going the austerity route, but rather way we did during our great depression. Government spending, bringing us back to health -- infrastructure, training, government jobs.

John Boehner

What is simpleton John Boehner not getting? He's threatening again to not raise the debt ceiling. He proposes austerity.

Everyone's heard the old bromide on the secret to success, "Buy low, sell high." Right now loans and borrowing for the government are still at near record lows. So to add onto debt when it's this cheap, is basically buying low. When our productivity, our jobs numbers and our gross incomes rise, so will revenue. We will be riding high. This isn't a fantasy out of PAPER MOON, it's an optimistic look at the future. (Something Boehner's never been accused of). And when interest rates go up, we'll still be paying low rates and we'll have the money to make those payments, pay down the debt and cut back on larger government. We'll also have cleaner air, better roads, safer bridges. Did the Speaker forget how the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the WPA, the Works Progress Administration pulled us up and out of the Depression? We don't need something quite as severe, but we need guidance, direction and working together. Speaker Obstruction of the GOP isn't providing any of it. Let's dump the chump.

The economy needs a kick in the shorts. Spending now will bring in many more dollars down the road, not to mention lowering costs as gainfully employed workers buy more things, spend more money, are removed from the public assistance and generally goose along the economy.

As for Europe, just look at their impending collapse. We don't need to join them on the mat for a ten count. Boehner is WRONG about raising the debt ceiling. It's a necessity and must be done. But he's seemingly too stubborn to admit a mistake. It takes a big man to do that. Boehner isn't that big man. He's still trying to defend his actions on:

The intellectual underpinnings of the austerity movement took a serious blow earlier this year when a paper found that Reinhart and Rogoff's research was riddled with errors and omissions. A series of subsequent papers suggested the Harvard economists had badly misinterpreted their data.

Even faced with the repudiation of his basis for his economic plan, The Bonehead won't give in. Well I don't want to see us fail. Maybe it's just best if Boehner does. Voters, are you ready?


Dep't. of Obvious: The GOP "really seems to be struggling with that compassion thing."



The Republican party needs to do more than just “de-kookify and disassociate with the nuts.”

Here is First Read's take. They appear to have a flair for stating the obvious:

Lacking that compassion thing: There’s one other point we want to make about the GOP: The party really seems to be struggling with that compassion thing. Take passing the farm bill WITHOUT the food stamp program. Or the scant attention to the plight of the undocumented immigrants -- and their families -- who are currently living in the shadows of this country. Compassion is a powerful thing in politics; remember, George W. Bush won a presidential election (in 2000) on that theme. Republicans are going to need to figure out how to add a compassionate element to their austerity push. Of course, conservatives would argue the one place they show the most compassion (on the issue of abortion) doesn't get the attention it deserves. Then again, on abortion, there is another side that believes there is a lack of compassion for women on this issue. Point is, the GOP has a perception problem on this front -- something the Republican National Committee noted, and they've done little to fix it.

Where to start, where to start? Well, first, there's this: GOP on the Verge of Committing Political Suicide. But I digress...

1. I've been writing about "that compassion thing" for ages. You can find all my posts on the Republicans' so-called "outreach" efforts (scroll) here. This isn't about any compassion they want to convince themselves that they have, it's about the perception of compassion, which I will address later. It's a sham. It's a facade. It's a game of Charades. It's a movie set without good actors or a decent script. It's a whole bunch of phony baloney wind-up mechanical stuntmen who lack souls.

2. Not providing needy Americans (a good number of them are employed and white, by the way) with food stamps, AKA a way to stay alive by, you know, eating, shows no compassion. None.

3. Not caring one tiny bit for anyone who doesn't look, sound, think, or believe the way white male Christian conservatives do is not anyone's idea of compassion, empathy, or outreach. Correction: It's white male Christian conservatives' idea of compassion, empathy, and outreach. My bad.

4. How can there be a compassion element in an ill-timed, unnecessary, harmful austerity push? Oxymoron.

5. Supporting forced-birth is compassionate? Making doctors read scripts filled with lies to scare their female patients is compassionate? Shoving trans-vaginal probes up women against their will when there is no medical need for them is compassionate? Male legislators determining what women should do with their lives and bodies is compassionate? Forbidding women to make very painful, very personal, possibly life-saving decisions about their own health is compassionate? Withholding health services, including cancer screenings, is compassionate? Shaming women publicly and politically is compassionate? This isn't "lacking that compassion thing," this is lacking that heart thing.

6. If all you're striving for is the "perception" of compassion, then you're a fake. Your goal is to fool people into believing that your slogans mean more than your intentions and legislative outcomes. You're playing the role of the fast-talking salesman who will say anything to make the sale, to get you to buy a defective product, or a product that could result in injury or even fatalities. Anyone who's watched a TV commercial knows that sales pitches can look attractive and sound enticing, but if the merchandise is inferior, if it doesn't work, if it's unsafe or ineffective, then it's as flimsy and substandard as the advertiser's credibility.

No, the GOP doesn't have a perception problem. They have a policy problem. They have a trust problem. They have a people problem. They have a humanity problem. And that means they have a voter problem.

outreach my ass reach out inclusive


Austerity, My Breakf-ass-t


coffee & bagel

Oh, c'mon boys and girls in the House.  Tell me, "No-o, you di-int."

Here's a few tidbits from  ABC News | ABC News Blogs

The Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group advocating for government transparency, crunched the numbers for ABC News and found that the House of Representatives spent nearly $2 million on coffee and food in 2012


European leaders begin to realize austerity is crippling nations. Gee, ya think?


stimulus austerity

Drastic cuts, sequestration, firing public workers by the hundreds of thousands, slashing programs that keep people healthy and alive, closing schools, suppressing stimulus plans when we need them most, and ignoring the opportunity to rebuild a crumbling infrastructure are all wrongheaded policies that progressives have been trying our best to reverse.

Europe is rethinking their own approach to cutting and starving their way out of their economic problems and ending up on "a dead-end street." It's about time.

The Los Angeles Times has an article on that very thing:

Prodded by Germany and its insistence on fiscal virtue, governments elsewhere have fired workers, chopped welfare benefits and shelved big-ticket projects, turning the continent into what some call one giant "Austerity-land."...The punishing spending cuts have stifled consumer demand and economic growth, not spurred it. [...]

Public patience with continued belt-tightening is wearing thin as misery increases and as officials repeatedly push their predictions of economic recovery further into the future. [...]

The pressure may finally be starting to tell. Recently there have been signs that the region's leaders, most notably in Berlin and at European Union headquarters in Brussels, are rethinking their dogmatic pursuit of spending cutbacks and balanced budgets. [...]

Advocates of a more nuanced policy note that U.S. economic performance has easily outpaced Europe's and that Japan is witnessing a comeback. [...]

[S]o many countries cutting so much so fast, they contend, has turned out to be an act of collective kneecapping that has crippled the entire region. [...]

More pro-growth policies — investment in big infrastructure projects, for example — could jump-start faltering economies and help countries make the revenue they need to pay down their debts, analysts say...

That, however, would require a farsightedness and cooperative policymaking that critics say has been sorely lacking.

Take note, Republicans. Or is that asking too much? As I wrote in a 2011 post, GOP jackasses, foresight is not exactly their strong suit.


"The average food stamp benefit is a little more than $4 a day, about what one pays for a latte at Starbucks."


inequality income

Today's Los Angeles Times letter to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "The case for food stamps," Opinion, May 24

The proposed reductions to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps) are more evidence of the inequality between rich and poor in the United States. There are some 50 million Americans who are "food insecure," including roughly 17 million children, according to the charity Feeding America.

The cuts are more than an economic misstep — they are a moral failing.

The average food stamp benefit is a little more than $4 a day, about what one pays for a latte at Starbucks. We are a country of enormous wealth that would deny nutrition to the least affluent, even though studies tell us that hunger denies children the ability to learn at a time when an educated citizenry is essential in a global economy.

Our Constitution was adopted specifically, in part, to "promote the general welfare." Enacting these cuts would mock the idea of mutual obligations in a free and just society.

Barbara H. Bergen

Los Angeles

will work for latte