• on a comment on Misplaced Priorities over 4 years ago

    This seems to be one of the main points of contentions between those that blindly support Obama no matter what, and those that want to pressure Obama to try to do more:

    Some of us think that Obama has the ability to change public opinion to some extent. The universe of what is possible does not hit upon an upper bound based on what public opinion is at in the absense of Obama/Dems trying to sway the public.

    In fact, it's one of the main reasons why I voted for him (and worked on his campaign) instead of Hillary. He seemed to have the ability and the drive. He seemed to recognize the possibilities himself by some of the things he said, like his assertions that Reagan changed the views of the country and therefore had a more profound effect on the country than just his policies.

    So I thought that that was exactly what Obama would try to do. Instead, he's following Bill Clinton's model of trying to stay in the middle, and even adopting some right-wing talking points and ideologies, giving them more credibility instead of trying to change the terms of the debate.

    But people like you keep insisting that Obama is necessarily bound by where public opinion is at the start, before any forceful coordinated attempts to change the minds of the people. And therefore, by definition, whatever Obama does is the limit of what he could do and there's no point in Obama swinging for the fences.  

    It seems to me that this is the core difference between most of those who "stand by their man" and those who are profoundly disappointed in the lost opportunities by this Administration.

  • Eric Alterman:

    It wasn't so long ago, that liberals were being called "f------ retards" by Rahm Emanuel for refusing to get behind the president's compromises on health care. When they finally did, they were chastised for insufficient enthusiasm for a bill that they were instructed to hold their noses and support.

    Ditto financial regulation, which, in many respects, is a gift to Wall Street, not Main Street.

    And environmentalists, labor, and feminists have all received not merely nothing, but genuinely regressive rulings by the administration and told to take it and like it.


    Peter Daou on the divide between the Administration and liberals:

    Strikingly, this civil war is premised on a false choice: that an incremental legislative approach and a well-articulated grand ideological vision are mutually exclusive. They're not.

    Rapid, sweeping changes may not be feasible in the face of entrenched interests and steely GOP obstructionism, and credit should be given to the president for seeking and achieving solid wins.

    But neither is the White House prohibited from standing up for core Democratic ideals and presenting them powerfully and unflinchingly, explaining to the public in clear terms why Democrats have the better plan for America. Nor does the glacial pace of progress in Washington obviate the need to reverse George Bush's radical excesses, something the Obama administration has failed (so far) to do."

  • on a comment on Tackling Inequality over 4 years ago

    Why can't the Dems get their message through to the American People?

    From Krugman:

    My Obama Problem

    John Boehner, March 2009:

    It’s time for government to tighten their belts and show the American people that we ‘get’ it

    Barack Obama, yesterday:

    “At a time when so many families are tightening their belts, he’s going to make sure that the government continues to tighten its own,” Obama said. “

    We’ll never know how differently the politics would have played if Obama, instead of systematically echoing and giving credibility to all the arguments of the people who want to destroy him, had actually stood up for a different economic philosophy.

    But we do know how his actual strategy has worked, and it hasn’t been a success.

  • comment on a post Athletes Behaving Badly over 4 years ago

    A "get of my lawn!" kind of post.


    Listen, I don't think anybody can argue that Athetes are always the best role models, or that they deserve to make so much more than a teacher, for instance.


    However, at a time when a dozen hedge-fund managers made an average of $900k PER HOUR during the worst economic year since the great depression, I find it difficult to get too worked up over the salary of a top entertainer like Lebron James.

    At least James actually adds a bit of something to people's lives in the form of entertainment rather than destroying people's lives like the top finance guys, but for some reason I hear people complaining about the salaries of entertainers (including athletes) far more.

  • on a comment on Big F'n Disaster over 4 years ago

    Obama still has a veto pen, you know. 

    I don't understand theargument that:

    "it would have been better to have a branch of government in GOP hands these last two years... so that we wouldn't risk having a branch of the government in GOP hands during the next two years"

    That never made much sense to me.


  • on a comment on Big F'n Disaster over 4 years ago

    wait, are you really saying that things would be better with McCain?

    I hope I just read that incorrectly.

  • comment on a post The Corporate Savings Glut over 4 years ago

    points to one of the significant developments in the global economy over the past twenty years, a switch in the behaviour of corporations which are eschewing investment in productive assets in favour of financial ones

    Which explains numbers like this:

    The Quiet Coup: From 1973 to 1985, the financial sector never earned more than 16 percent of domestic corporate profits.

    In 1986, that figure reached 19 percent.

    In the 1990s, it oscillated between 21 percent and 30 percent, higher than it had ever been in the postwar period.

    This decade, it reached 41 percent...

  • on a comment on A Mea Culpa on US Unemployment over 4 years ago

    thanks, but I wish this was a time when somebody else convinced me that I am wrong.


    Btw, here's some more:


    Dean Baker at CEPR, provides a bleak analysis of these latest bleak numbers in Decline in Labor Force Leads to Drop in Unemployment.

    The Labor Department reported that 652,000 people left the labor force in June, causing the unemployment rate to edge down to 9.5 percent, even as the number of employed reportedly dropped by 301,000. …

    also showed declines in both the length of the average workweek and the average hourly wage, providing further concerns about labor market weakness going forward …

    The employment-to-population (EPOP) ratio fell to 58.5 percent, reversing gains from the prior three months …

    The median and average duration of unemployment spells both increased to new records, 25.5 weeks and 35.2 weeks, respectively; although there was a modest decline in the share of long-term unemployed.

    The number of discouraged workers was more than 50 percent higher than the June 2009 figure, with the number for men being more than 70 percent higher. …

    there are no obvious candidates for improved growth any time soon. … manufacturing sector added just 9,000 jobs in June, after adding 70,000 over the prior two months.

    With the workweek shortening by 0.5 hours, there is little reason to expect robust hiring.

    Construction lost another 22,000 jobs, mostly in the non-residential sector …

    retail sector lost 6,600 jobs, its second consecutive decline.

    Finance shed 15,000 jobs, 6,500 of the losses were in real estate following the end of the homebuyers tax credit. …

    Baker concludes his bleak analysis bleakly,

    With state and local governments cutting back to deal with deficits, house prices falling again, and wages not keeping pace with inflation, there is little hope for a robust growth any time soon.

    It is likely that the unemployment rate will rise in the second half of the year.

  • on a comment on A Mea Culpa on US Unemployment over 4 years ago

    remember that that chart is % of jobs lost. that's total jobs, not taking into account population growth.

    the % of the country's workforce who have jobs is still going down.

  • on a comment on A Mea Culpa on US Unemployment over 4 years ago

    From Krugman last December:


    "Anyway, I thought it might be useful to create a sort of benchmark for the level of job growth that would really count as good news. I start from the fact that we’ve lost about 8 million jobs since the recession began — that’s the official number plus the preliminary estimate of the coming benchmark revision.

    I then take EPI’s estimate that we need to add 127,000 jobs a month. EPI points out that when you put these numbers together, they say that to return to pre-crisis unemployment within two years we’d have to add 580,000 jobs a month.

    That’s not going to happen....


    But let’s set a more modest goal: return to more or less full employment in 5 years [End of 2015]]–which means seven lean years of depressed employment...

    Add in the need to make up lost ground, and we’re at around 18 million jobs over the next five years — or 300,000 a month. So that’s a useful benchmark. Even if we add 300,000 jobs a month, we’re looking at a prolonged period of suffering — a huge cost from the Great Recession. So that’s kind of a minimal definition of success.



    since we haven't been doing that int he 7 months since he wrote that, we are actually in a much worse position than that now, and we are actually going the wrong way since we are not even keeping up with population growth, much less making up ground.

  • on a comment on A Mea Culpa on US Unemployment over 4 years ago

    the population is going up by 200k+ a month.

    the population entering the workforce is going up by 130k-150k month.

    Thus, we break even on the % of the workforce that has a job if we create 130k-150k jobs a month. Anything less than that and we are losing lobs (as a % of the people available to or trying to work). That's where we are - we are losing jobs compared to the amount of people wanting them.

    To make it more clear, if there was no change in the amount of people completely giving up on looking for work, the unemployment rate would actually go up each month that we gain less than 130k-150k job, like this month.

    that's why this jobs report is the jobs situation actually getting worse.


    An analogy would be inflation. say that your wages are going up by 1% a year, but prices are going up 4% a year. You are not doing better just because your wages are going up; rather, your purchasing power is actually getting worse. It's the same thing with the jobs situation.


  • on a comment on A Mea Culpa on US Unemployment over 4 years ago

    the problem with jobs is a lack of demand for goods and services. it's not payroll taxes.

    businesses mainly aren't hiring because they don't have enough customers to necessitate more employees. it's already easier to get employees more cheaply due to so many people looking for work. but you don't hire another worker when you can't sell what he/she would produce.

    a permanent reduction in payroll taxes for businesses could help a little on the margins, but it's not going to be one of the more stimulative things we could do. and a temporary tax holliday would be even less effective.

  • on a comment on A Mea Culpa on US Unemployment over 4 years ago

    That's what happens when the economy experiences a major financial crises.

    To put things in perspective, worldwide manufacturing and employment actually fell more (by %) than they did during the Great Depression (although not quite as bad in the US this time as the Great Depression).

    Even here, unemployment got up to something like 22% when calculated the same way they calculated unemployment in the 1930's. It got up to 25% at the absolute worst of the Great Depression.

    Thank god (and FDR's ideals) for FDIC insurance, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, unemployment insurance, food stamps, stimulus spending, and yes, the bank bailouts.

    Those are the things that kept us from have "hooverville" ("Bushville") tent cities springing up all over the place.


  • on a comment on A Mea Culpa on US Unemployment over 4 years ago

    my comment was supposed to be in response to Nathan's first comment, not his second.


    the darn page keeps loading when i'm 1/2 through writing the comment and erasing what I wrote.


    this thing is buggy (using Firefox, btw)

  • on a comment on A Mea Culpa on US Unemployment over 4 years ago

    If it is not keeping up with population change, then the jobs situation is actually getting WORSE, not better.

    The Administration is spinning, and I don't blame them at all for that. In fact, I really don't want Obama to go out and say "you might as well quit trying to find a job because we are going back into a recession."

    But while they need to keep a somewhat rosy face in public statements (not past the point of losing too much credibility, obviously), they need to be seriously looking at policy to fix the worstening situation.

    Are they doing that? maybe. I don't know. I hope so.


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