Via: NY Times
Conservative leaders are indeed ideologically extreme, but they’re also DEEPLY INCOMPETENT. So much so, in fact, that the Dunning-Kruger effect — the truly incompetent can’t even recognize their own incompetence — reigns supreme.
To see what I’m talking about, consider the report in Sunday’s Times about the origins of the current crisis. Early this year, it turns out, some of the usual suspects — the Koch brothers, the political arm of the Heritage Foundation and others — plotted strategy in the wake of Republican electoral defeat. Did they talk about rethinking ideas that voters had soundly rejected? (Oh, hell no!)
No, they talked extortion, insisting that the threat of a shutdown would induce President Obama to abandon health reform.
This was crazy talk.
After all, health reform is Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement.
You’d have to be completely clueless to believe that he could be bullied into giving up his entire legacy by a defeated, unpopular G.O.P. — as opposed to responding, as he has, by making resistance to blackmail an issue of principle. But the possibility that their strategy might backfire doesn’t seem to have occurred to the would-be extortionists.
Unfortunately for all of us, even the shock of electoral defeat wasn’t enough to burst the G.O.P. bubble; it’s still a party dominated by wishful thinking, and all but impervious to inconvenient facts.
And now that party’s leaders (See Photo) have bungled themselves into a corner.
Everybody not inside the bubble realizes that Mr. Obama can’t and won’t negotiate under the threat that the House will blow up the economy if he doesn’t — any concession at all would legitimize extortion as a routine part of politics. Yet Republican leaders are just beginning to get a clue, and so far clearly have no idea how to back down. Meanwhile, the government is shut, and a debt crisis looms. Incompetence can be a terrible thing.
Read the entire Krugman column, HERE:
House Republicans have voted 37 times to repeal ObamaRomneyCare — the Affordable Care Act, which creates a national health insurance system similar to the one Massachusetts has had since 2006. Nonetheless, almost all of the act will go fully into effect at the beginning of next year.
There is, however, one form of obstruction still available to the G.O.P. Last year’s Supreme Court decision upholding the law’s constitutionality also gave states the right to opt out of one piece of the plan, a federally financed expansion of Medicaid. Sure enough, a number of Republican-dominated states seem set to reject Medicaid expansion, at least at first.
And why would they do this? They won’t save money. On the contrary, they will hurt their own budgets and damage their own economies. Nor will Medicaid rejectionism serve any clear political purpose. As I’ll explain later, it will probably hurt Republicans for years to come.
And as I said, it doesn’t even make sense as cynical politics. If Obamacare works (which it will), millions of middle-income voters — the kind of people who might support either party in future elections — will see major benefits, even in rejectionist states. So rejectionism won’t discredit health reform. What it might do, however, is drive home to lower-income voters — many of them nonwhite — just how little the G.O.P. cares about their well-being, and reinforce the already strong Democratic advantage among Latinos, in particular.
Rationally, in other words, Republicans should accept defeat on health care, at least for now, and move on. Instead, however, their spitefulness appears to override all other considerations.
And millions of Americans will pay the price.
Read the whole column, HERE:
Rick Perry (see gif above), governor of Texas, wants to be president.
In order to do that, he must first win his party’s nomination; supporting ObamaCARE is a non-starter. PERIOD
Let’s get one thing straight: America is NOT facing a fiscal crisis. It is, however, still very much experiencing a job crisis.
It’s easy to get confused about the fiscal thing, since everyone’s talking about the “fiscal cliff. (ignore photo)” Indeed, one recent poll suggests that a large plurality of the public believes that the budget deficit will go up if we go off that cliff.
In fact, of course, it’s just the opposite: The danger is that the deficit will come down too much, too fast. And the reasons that might happen are purely political; we may be about to slash spending and raise taxes not because markets demand it, but because Republicans have been using blackmail as a bargaining strategy, and the president seems ready to call their bluff.
Meanwhile, there is almost no organized pressure to deal with the terrible thing that is actually happening right now — namely, mass unemployment. Yes, we’ve made progress over the past year. But long-term unemployment remains at levels not seen since the Great Depression: as of October, 4.9 million Americans had been unemployed for more than six months, and 3.6 million had been out of work for more than a year.
When you see numbers like those, bear in mind that we’re looking at millions of human tragedies: at individuals and families whose lives are falling apart because they can’t find work, at savings consumed, homes lost and dreams destroyed. And the longer this goes on, the bigger the tragedy.
Read more, HERE:
“And the reasons that might happen are purely political”
OK, so Obama did a terrible job in the debate, and Romney did well. But in the end, this isn’t or shouldn’t be about theater criticism, it should be about substance. And the fact is that everything Obama said was basically true, while much of what Romney said was either outright false or so misleading as to be the moral equivalent of a lie.
Above all, there’s this:
MR. ROMNEY: Let — well, actually — actually it’s — it’s — it’s a lengthy description, but number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.
No, they aren’t!
Romney’s advisers have conceded as much in the past; last night they did it again.
I guess you could say that Romney’s claim wasn’t exactly a lie, since some people with preexisting conditions would retain coverage. But as I said, it’s the moral equivalent of a lie; if you think he promised something real, you’re the butt of a sick joke.
And we’re talking about a lot of people left out in the cold — 89 million, to be precise.
Furthermore, all of this should be taken in the context of Romney’s plan not just to repeal Obamacare but to drastically cut Medicaid.
So enough with the theater criticism; Romney needs to be held accountable for dishonesty on a huge scale.
New GDP report out today; slightly stronger than expected, but still very weak. So what’s holding back recovery?
You know what the usual suspects are saying: big government! Bad Obama! Insulting businessmen!
Here’s a chart (See Above). It shows changes since the second quarter of 2009, which was both the bottom of the recession and the earliest point at which you can plausibly say that Obama had any influence on actual policy. I show nonresidential fixed investment — basically business investment — and government purchases of goods and services:
Business investment has actually gone up a lot; maybe you think it should have gone up even more, but it’s not the heart of the problem.
On the other hand, we’ve had a lot of cutbacks in government — mainly at the state and local level, but federal aid could have avoided that.
This isn’t a picture of an economy hobbled by Big Government; it’s a picture of an economy hobbled by premature austerity.
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
~Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, (R-Ky.), October 2010
So the Supreme Court — defying many expectations — upheld the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare. There will, no doubt, be many headlines declaring this a big victory for President Obama, which it is.
But the real winners are ordinary Americans — people like you.
How many people are we talking about? You might say 30 million, the number of additional people the Congressional Budget Office says will have health insurance thanks to Obamacare. But that vastly understates the true number of winners because millions of other Americans — including many who oppose the act — would have been at risk of being one of those 30 million.
So add in EVERY AMERICAN who currently works for a company that offers good health insurance but is at risk of losing that job (and who isn’t in this world of outsourcing and private equity buyouts?); EVERY AMERICAN who would have found health insurance unaffordable but will now receive crucial financial help; EVERY AMERICAN with a pre-existing condition who would have been flatly denied coverage in many states (SEE PHOTO).
But what about the cost?
Put it this way: the budget office’s estimate of the cost over the next decade of Obamacare’s “coverage provisions” — basically, the subsidies needed to make insurance affordable for all — is about only a third of the cost of the tax cuts, overwhelmingly favoring the wealthy, that Mitt Romney is proposing over the same period.
True, Mr. Romney says that he would offset that cost, but he has failed to provide any plausible explanation of how he’d do that.
The Affordable Care Act, by contrast, is fully paid for, with an explicit combination of tax increases and spending cuts elsewhere.
Please read more, HERE:
Via: NY Times
So it appears that the governing coalition in Greece has pulled out a narrow victory — winning only a minority of votes, but getting a narrow majority in the parliament thanks to the 50-seat bonus New Democracy gets for coming in first.
So they will now have the ability to continue pursuing an unworkable policy.
Joe Wiesenthal tells us that there’s a meme in Greece to the effect that Syriza didn’t really want to win, because it would rather see the current government flail some more.
Conversely, establishment types should actually be dismayed by this outcome: if current policies fail completely, which seems almost a GIVEN, and Greece exits the euro anyway, which seems highly likely, the entire Greek center will end up discredited; better, in a way, to be able to blame the radicals.
And I gather I’m not the only one thinking along these lines; Business Insider also reports hints that Pasok, which has suffered terribly from its identification with failing policies, might not continue in the coalition unless Syriza is also brought on board — which then raises the question, why would Syriza do that?
The debacle rolls on.
You can read all of the Nobel laureate’s blog, and column, here:
Q: Could it be worse?
Q: Will it get worse?
Via: NY Times
Every time I hear some smug pundit or politician saying that we can’t spend to create jobs because that would be laying too much of a burden on our children, I get angry — because of reports like this:
For this generation of young people, the future looks bleak. Only one in six is working full time. Three out of five live with their parents or other relatives. A large majority — 73 percent — think they need more education to find a successful career, but only half of those say they will definitely enroll in the next few years.
No, they are not the idle youth of Greece or Spain or Egypt. They are the youth of America, the world’s richest country, who do not have college degrees and aren’t getting them anytime soon.
Everything we know says that this generation will never — NEVER — recover from the terrible job market into which it has graduated.
But hey, we can’t do anything about that; we must have austerity, for the sake of the next generation.
Paul Krugman’s Blog – ‘Conscience of a Liberal’
Via: New York Times
Some of us have been talking it over, and here’s what we think the end game looks like:
1. Greek euro exit, very possibly next month.
2. Huge withdrawals from Spanish and Italian banks, as depositors try to move their money to Germany.
3a. Maybe, just possibly, de facto controls, with banks forbidden to transfer deposits out of country and limits on cash withdrawals.
3b. Alternatively, or maybe in tandem, huge draws on ECB credit to keep the banks from collapsing.
4a. Germany has a choice. Accept huge indirect public claims on Italy and Spain, plus a drastic revision of strategy — basically, to give Spain in particular any hope you need both guarantees on its debt to hold borrowing costs down and a higher eurozone inflation target to make relative price adjustment possible; or:
4b. End of the euro.
And we’re talking about months, not years, for this to play out.
Read Krugman’s BLOG, here:
Paul Robin Krugman born February 28, 1953) is an American economist, Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times.
In 2008, Krugman won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences (informally the Nobel Prize in Economics) for his contributions to New Trade Theory and New Economic Geography. According to the Nobel Prize Committee, the prize was given for Krugman’s work explaining the patterns of international trade and the geographic concentration of wealth, by examining the impact of economies of scale and of consumer preferences for diverse goods and services.
Read more, HERE:
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