Archive for steve benen

CHART-- Memo to GOP: Spending cuts SHRINK the economy, undermine growth. Oh, and the U.S. added jobs in January.


shrinkage smaller

chart spending cuts shrink economy

Via Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog.
The red columns show the economy under the Bush administration; the blue columns show the economy under the Obama administration.

For the first time in years we're seeing a slight contraction in economic growth. Here is an email alert from the New York Times from this morning:

The United States economy contracted unexpectedly in the final quarter of 2012, hurt by weaker exports, a drop in military spending and a slower buildup in inventories.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that economic output in the quarter fell at an annual rate of 0.1 percent, compared with growth at a 3.1 percent pace in the third quarter.


Now before everyone panics, Steve Benen at the Maddow Blog notes that this is not necessarily evidence of a new recession, and on the whole, the report really isn't that bad.

But that won't stop Republicans from playing the Blame Obama game. Did I mention that, per a Fox Business email alert, the ADP National Employment Report shows the U.S. private sector added 192,000 jobs in January, topping estimates of 165,000?

Via Benen:

I realize the right doesn't want to hear or believe this, but when Washington spends far less -- in this case, the cuts focused on defense -- it takes capital out of the economy and undermines growth. It is, as a practical matter, a form of austerity, which hits the brakes on the economy. This is Economics 101 and yet Republicans continue to insist that it is the only policy they really care about.


CHART: "By contemporary Republican standards, this means Bush was a far more effective big-government socialist than Obama."


Via Steve Benen/Maddow Blog

The lighter color shows job losses/gains in the overall economy, the darker color reflects just the private sector.

I love Steve Benen. His post at The Maddow Blog needs to be read in full, but here's a sample:

[N]ote that the economy added jobs in President Obama's second year, which is more than we can say for his Republican predecessor. In Obama's third year, 2011, more private sector jobs were created than in seven of the eight years Bush was in the White House.

Even this year, after just five months, some of which have been far from adequate, the economy has added more jobs than in Bush's first three years in office combined.

Benen went on to remind us that Bush relied on government jobs, but under President Obama, the public sector has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. As I previously posted:

And that is exactly whats the GOP wants: Government shrinkage, or as any sane person calls it, firing government workers. Which of course means firing employed people who bring home paychecks that are used to pay for things, which, in turn, boost the economy.

...Which would make the president look good, which is what Republicans are doing everything in their power to prevent.

My favorite line, though, was this:

By contemporary Republican standards, this means Bush was a far more effective big-government socialist than Obama.

Just now on Twitter, I was asked, "Do you dislike this country so much you'd re-elect President Obama, down a socialist way of life?" Actually, yes. Of course, I reminded the ignoramus that he uses our freeways, police and fire departments, and whatever else I could squeeze into 140 characters. I'm pretty sure if he has parents or grandparents, they're taking advantage of Social Security and/or Medicare. Maybe he himself is.

But I also "dislike this country so much" that I'd re-elect President Obama because he's helping the economy grow, whereas if Willard Romney were to somehow get into the White House, we'd go right back to those red bars in Benen's chart.


Religion, porn, and viruses, oh my!


Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog posted news items from the "God Machine," informing us about all kinds of religiony stuff, so please go over and read all about it. Two fascinating little tidbits in particular caught my eye:

1- The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life found the most knowledgeable Americans about religion are atheists and agnostics.

2- Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report found more viruses attached to religious websites than porn websites.

So remember, boys and girls, stay away from them religious sites! They're dangerous and can infect you with icky, Satany germs!

And then I followed the link in #1, and found this:

Overall, people who score well on the general knowledge questions also tend to do well on the religion questions. Atheists/agnostics and Jews correctly answer an average of roughly seven of the nine general knowledge questions. Among the public overall, the average respondent correctly answers 5.2 of these general knowledge questions.

Since I fall under both the "atheist/agnostic" and "Jew" categories, I really should be a lot more knowledgeable than I am. I chalk that up to exposing myself to too many Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin speeches.


Note to GOP: This is how budget cuts can cost, not save, us money.


I love Steve Benen. Read this, then hop over to his site, read the rest, and you'll see why:

If we cut spending on volcano monitoring and tsunami warnings, we save a little money on maintenance, but pay a lot of money on damage repairs after disaster strikes. If we cut spending on food safety, we save a little money on inspection, but pay a lot of money on health care costs when consumers get sick. If we cut spending for the Securities and Exchange Commission, we save a little money on enforcement, but pay a lot of money to clean up financial catastrophes.

He's clear as a bell, logical, and gives great blog.


Chart of the Day- Uneployment Claims Since 2007


I'll let Steve explain this purty thing.

And with that, here’s the new homemade chart, showing weekly, initial unemployment claims going back to the beginning of 2007. (Remember, unlike the monthly jobs chart, a lower number is good news.) For context, I’ve added an arrow to show the point at which President Obama’s Recovery Act began spending money. And by popular demand, I’ve also added an x-axis, marking the years reflected in the image.


The "Bikini Graph" is back!


Remember Rachel Maddow's "Bikini Graph"? We haven't seen it for awhile.

There are glimmers of good news, and the new version of the Bikini Graph (that no longer resembles a bikini) reflects that in a nice, easy to understand (well, except for Republicans), visual way. Via Steve Benen:

[G]iven the hole we've been in, what we're looking for are significant steps in the right direction. That's exactly the news we received today.

With that in mind, here is a different homemade chart, showing monthly job losses/gains in the private sector since the start of the Great Recession. The image makes a distinction -- red columns point to monthly job totals under the Bush administration, while blue columns point to job totals under the Obama administration.


We should use this instead of the Obama logo. Mugs, tee shirts, mouse pads... unless, of course, the GOP manages to screw it all up again. They're sure doing their level best to do that.


Republican lawmakers are "completely lost"


By GottaLaff

The GOP is the party that claims Democrats are dead wrong about everything, that Dems are destroying our country, shredding the Constitution, killing grandma, and running American into the ground.

This is the party that inappropriately and awkwardly shouts "You lie!" and "Hell no!"

This is also the party that cannot answer a simple question about health care reform.

Jay Bookman:

AJC editors and columnists just finished a pretty wide-ranging 80-minute interview with Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and I took the opportunity to ask a question that had been nagging at me for a while. [...]

[H]ow are the Republicans going to cover pre-existing conditions?

“The premiums are going up either way,” he [McConnell] said.

OK, I responded, a little stunned. That doesn’t explain how the Republicans intend to cover pre-existing conditions.

“The premiums are going up either way,” he repeated.

That was that. We moved on, and I still don’t have my answer.

Good response, Mitch McNoLips!

Except for the part where he didn't respond.

At all.

Steve Benen has a thing or two to say about these things or two:

If those with pre-existing conditions will be protected, the mandate is necessary to keep costs from spiraling and to prevent the "free rider" problem. [...]

After over a year of debate about health care policy, two leading Senate Republicans, including the Senate Minority Leader, can't speak intelligently about the basics. Bookman didn't throw a curve ball at them [...]

They want protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and want to eliminate the mandate, but asked how that could work, these experienced senators have no idea how to even begin answering the question. [...]

[I]f anyone dares to scratch the surface, even a little, they're completely lost.

It's all about the talking points, drumming non-answers into the uninformed electorate's heads, ignoring facts, smearing, belittling Democratic victories, lying about Democratic policy, ignoring the truth, and being utterly unable to justify their own arguments.

Jay Bookman cornered them, Steve Benen nailed them, and it's time we expose them for what they are... and aren't.

This story needs to get out, and be repeated and repeated.

H/t: Rachel Maddow via Twitter, who will hopefully cover this tonight on her show.