Archive for economic stimulus

Engineers: Thousands of US bridges dangerously close to collapsing, "only a matter of time"

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london bridge is falling down

Hey, remember when President Obama was out there campaigning for that crazy stimulus package? To rebuild our crumbling infrastructure? To make our roads and bridges safe again? And remember when Republicans obstructed and belittled him, saying that all he wanted to do was spend, spend, spend! and that would lead to the collapse of our already fragile economy!

How ironic, because by preventing a substantial economic stimulus program, those on the right are causing the collapse of our already fragile infrastructure before our very eyes, and very possibly the collapse of very lives and livelihoods.

According to the Times, "some of the most important bridge links in the country are now threatened by age." No sh**, Sherlock.

The Los Angeles Times:

America's roads and bridges have been eroding for decades, but the deeper they fall into disrepair, the less money there is to fix them. First, the recession crippled local budgets, cutting the money available for transportation projects. As states began to recover, the federal government adopted its own mandatory budget cuts via sequestration. Then last month, the federal legislation that annually funds transportation projects across the country hit a roadblock of Republican opposition that throttled multibillion-dollar transportation bills in the House and Senate. [...]

Every day, U.S. commuters are taking more than 200 million trips across deficient bridges, according to a variety of analyses, and at least 8,000 bridges across the country are both "structurally deficient" and "fracture critical" — engineering terms for bridges that could fail if even a single component breaks. [...]

Officials from several states, including Pennsylvania, have warned that without substantial new federal funding of the kind recently roadblocked in Congress, they may be forced to close many of their deficient bridges, potentially preventing cars, emergency vehicles and school buses from getting to entire neighborhoods. [...]

Got that, Republicans? Because you blocked funding, Americans are facing life-threatening situations, whether it be the misfortune of crossing a bridge just as it falls to pieces, or being denied emergency care due to a lack of access. Nice.

I live in Southern California, and per the Times report, 16 bridges right here in the Los Angeles area are "in the highest-risk category, aging and subject to collapse with the failure of a single component."

Thanks, GOP. You've done it again.

Via .ecobumperstickers.com

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

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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.

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Chart: Taxes schmaxes. Three-Quarters of deficit reduction has been via spending cuts

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taxes schmaxes

chart deficit cuts not taxes

With the state of the economy as it is today, stimulus is a good thing. Spending works when done right, but austerity is not what we need right now. Yet Republicans insist on austerity measures which, as we’ve witnessed and is painfully evident overseas, are one big fat fail.

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David Cay Johnston:

“They do not want him to succeed. There`s no question about that. They are assert that spending more money is wrong. We really need to be spending a lot more money, fixing up our infrastructure and creating jobs and making the economy run better.

Think Progress has way more than this so please link over:

When McConnell tried to claim on ABC’s This Week that revenue was off the table, anchor George Stephanopoulos wasn’t having it. And the numbers show he was exactly right.

I responded to McConnell's cut, cut, cut/stop spending gibberish here: VIDEO: Mitch McConnell is a lying, evasive GOP Sunday talk show hypocrite.

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It’s official: Austerity economics doesn’t work

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John Cassidy at the New Yorker wrote an article that had me at "Austerity economic doesn't work." It's more than a little frustrating to watch and listen to Republicans insist on austerity measures which, as we've witnessed and is painfully evident overseas, do. Not. Work.

Nor would they work here in the U.S. no matter how many times the GOP repeat their Cut Cut Cut mantra... and you know how reliable their judgment has been, up to and including the 2012 elections and beyond.

And don't get me started on raising the Medicare eligibility age. Besides, what’s the rush?

Cassidy:

With Republicans in Congress still intent on pursuing a strategy similar to the failed one adopted by the Brits, this is a story that needs trumpeting. Austerity policies are self-defeating: they cripple growth and reduce tax revenues. The only way to bring down the U.S. government’s deficit in a sustainable manner, and put the nation’s finances on a firmer footing, is to keep the economy growing. Spending cuts and tax increases can also play a role, but they need to be introduced gradually. [...]

That austerity has led to recession is undeniable. ... consumer and investment spending have remained depressed. [...]

In adopting a fiscal stimulus of gradually declining magnitude over the past four years, the Obama Administration has administered what was, until recently, the standard medicine for a sick economy. As one would have expected on the basis of the textbooks, the American economy, while hardly racing ahead, has fared considerably better than its British counterpart. [...]

Having adopted the policies of Keynes in response to a calamitous recession, the United States has grown more than twice as fast during the past three years as Britain, which adopted the economics of Hoover (and Paul Ryan). 

Clear? Clear.

By the way, why aren’t we talking about a Wall St. transaction tax and much, much more? Hmm?

More of Cassidy's article at the link.

H/t: @42bkdodgr

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Video- Bill O'Reilly Claims "The Cold Truth Is That [Obama] Has Not Improved The American Economy"

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Get back to us at the end of PBO's second term Bill, we'll talk then. Via.

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Debunking a few of Romney’s most persistent campaign lies about President Obama

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Via @ Msmaggiern

 

Greg Sargent wrote a lengthy post that included some of the most persistent lies about President Obama that Mitt Romney has told over the course of his campaign. We've addressed these before, but since the election is finally upon us, it never hurts to review them and refer you to the some of the official debunkitude. Especially since Romney's entire campaign is based on nothing but lies and evasion.

1. Romney: President Obama promised that the stimulus would keep unemployment under 8 percent.

Reality:

Far from being anything that Obama said, the Romney campaign acknowledges that this 8 percent figure comes from a staff-written projection issued Jan. 9, 2009 — before Obama had taken the oath of office. Of course, the campaign still spins it as a negative.

Here’s what happened. Two Obama aides, Christina Romer, the nominee to head the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jared Bernstein, an incoming economic adviser to Vice President-elect Biden, wrote a 14-page report that attempted to assess the impact of a possible $775 billion stimulus package and how much of a difference it would make compared to doing nothing.

Thus, it was not an official government assessment or even an analysis of an actual plan that had passed Congress.

2. Romney: President Obama went on around the world on an "apology tour."

Reality:

In a lengthy article on the Fact Checker blog, we tracked down every statement Obama uttered that partisans claim was an apology, and concluded that each one had been misquoted or taken out of context. [...]

Take it from us: The apology tour never happened.

3. Romney: President Obama added “nearly as much debt as all the previous presidents combined.”

Reality:

[T]he numbers don’t work. The national debt stood at $10.626 trillion on the day that President Obama took office. It now stands slightly above $15 trillion.

4. Romney: President Obama "is the only president to ever cut $500 billion from Medicare."

Reality:

Columbia Journalism Review,  May 21, 2012: The facts were and still are these: The health reform law, aka the Affordable Care Act, does call for cutting $500 billion from Medicare to help finance subsidies for the uninsured. The administration portrayed these as “savings”—in other words, money not spent for Medicare that could be used for another purpose. But the important take-away is this: the law does not cut a dime from the basic Medicare benefits seniors receive. All seniors will still get hospital benefits, coverage for physician services, lab tests, hospital outpatient care, prescription drugs, and so on, and will continue to receive them unless pols on both sides of the aisle succeed in changing the fundamental structure of Medicare.

For the record.

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Romney economic speech at company that received stimulus funds from program he labeled a failure

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Another day, another Moment of Hypocrisy from Willard M. Romney.

All during the campaign, he's bashed the president's stimulus plan relentlessly, but apparently has no qualms about giving a speech at an Iowa construction company that benefited from stimulus money. As I type this Romney is yammering on about something, but I have the TV muted, and for good reason. It was his "major economic speech" apparently, and the commentators are now saying the speech had "no new ideas."

Ames, Iowa (CNN) – Kevin Kinzler, owner of Kinzler Construction Services, received a $1.25 million dollar loan from the Small Business Administration through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in May of 2009, shortly after the stimulus plan was signed into law by President Obama. [...]

In addition to the small business loan, Kinzler Construction Services also received nearly $650,000 in stimulus funds through grants provided by the Department of Energy.  [...]

The GOP nominee has also repeatedly labeled the stimulus program a failure...

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