I posted Krugman's column from Friday's NYT on my FB page. The column, called The Market Speaks was really insightful and explained some of the paradoxes about how the "positive" things about the stock market (record highs!) and bond markets (record low interest rates!) in reality demonstrate the weaknesses in the economy. This quote summarizes things pretty well:
I wish I could say that it’s all good news, but it isn’t. Those low interest rates are the sign of an economy that is nowhere near to a full recovery from the financial crisis of 2008, while the high level of stock prices shouldn’t be cause for celebration; it is, in large part, a reflection of the growing disconnect between productivity and wages.
He also made the point that all the fears from the right and the center (eg, Simpson Bowles) about President Obama's policies crushing capitalism and looming hyper-inflation have been entirely unfounded. The "bond vigilantes" are nowhere to be found.
An old dear friend of mine who is old school Republican -- economic conservative, socially moderate to liberal -- was apoplectic. His response is below and I have responded to the points he made. I purposely avoided using Krugman columns and posts because I wanted to show that the concepts from Krugman's column are pretty mainstream, not the ravings of a solitary lunatic. I hope you enjoy the dialog.
Over the weekend, Digby went up with this post refuting another one of Tom Friedman's inane columns about telling grandma she has to suck it in because, austerity. She links to Brad DeLong's clever take down of Friedman's Sunday column pleading for the great wise men to come together and form that long elusive Grand Bargain. Friedman's latest display of classic Beltway groupthink:
After the whipping the G.O.P. took in the election, I believe there is now a group of Republican politicians and C.E.O.’s who would meet Obama in the middle, if the president showed he was ready to take on some of his base as well. If the president tries, and I am wrong, well, he’ll have a few bad weeks. If I am right and enough Republicans meet Obama on a Grand Bargain, it would both split the G.O.P. between the sane conservatives and the certifiable crazies and give the president a real foundation for a truly significant second term.
Apparently Tom has been asleep for the three months since the election dreaming about the Republican unicorn that's about to knock on the White House door to make nice. He's obviously seen something I haven't: a "group of Republican politicians and CEO's" prepared to meet Obama at the middle. The middle being where the catfood is flavored to taste like sushi grade tuna, not just the Chicken of the Sea kind. Name one of those guys, Tom. Lindsay Graham, perhaps?
DeLong's deconstruction is classic DeLong -- witty, smart and devastating. Please read it. In the end, he asks his readers each to hand his graphs to a cabdriver, so Tom will be sure to get them. Cab drivers, of course, being Friedman's favorite source of column fodder. But that's not the point of this diary. The point of this diary is to call out Digby for being so mean. Please, keep reading.
Just caught Krugman's post tonight about what Ezra guesses or hints may be the current state of the fiscal curb negotiations. According to Ezra the Republicans concede to a 37% top rate (not 39.6%) and there may be some cap on deductions. The Dems would make a bigger concession:
the headline Democratic concession is likely to be that the Medicare eligibility age rises from 65 to 67
The thinking is the the ACA would soften the blow of such an increase, and Ezra implies that Nancy is not saying no. But Prof. Krugman isn't having any of it.
It would be terrible policy even if the Affordable Care Act were going to be there in full force for 65 and 66 year olds, because it would cost the public $2 for every dollar in federal funds saved. And in case you haven’t noticed, Republican governors are still fighting the ACA tooth and nail; if they block the Medicaid expansion, as some will, lower-income seniors will just be pitched into the abyss.
Then he proceeds to raise some very strenuous objections to this line of thinking. The objections are entirely valid, in my view, but (call me naive) premature.
I just picked up this article about the latest guilty plea in the ongoing investigation of the flunkies who surrounded Scott Walker while he was Milwaukee County Executive and running for governor. The guy pleading guilty is named Tim Russell. His name might not ring a bell, but his wrongdoing might.
If you've been following this investigation even tangentially, you might remember that one of the villains here stole money from a fund set up for veterans and their widows and orphans. Here's the money quote:
Russell, 49, faces two felony counts of theft and one misdemeanor theft charge, related to money he allegedly took that was meant for veterans and their families. Russell took more than $20,000 from a veterans group known as the Heritage Guard Preservation Society, as well as thousands from two Milwaukee County Board candidates' campaign committees, according to the criminal complaint against him. He allegedly used the money for trips to Hawaii and the Caribbean, for meetings with former presidential candidate Herman Cain and campaign operative Mark Block in Atlanta, and for renewing campaign websites for Walker's gubernatorial campaign. The complaint said Russell "stole more than 50 cents of every donation dollar deposited" into the preservation society's account in 2010.
So much for supporting the troops and all that.
The new FiveThirtyEight column went up about an hour ago and it's no surprise. You can read it here. He restates the case for calling President Obama the favorite. But, for my money the best part is how he debunks the Mitt-mentum meme.
One of the great things about being a Democratic politician is that you can use pretty much any cool rock and roll song without fear of being bitch-slapped by the artist. Most recently REM followed in the great tradition of progressive musicians telling the Right to cut it out. No, they said to Fox News, you cannot use "Losing My Religion" to mock the Democrats, even if the Dems seemed to have lost their bearings for a brief moment during the DNC.
So Bill Clinton practically owns "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow," I am certain with the blessing of Fleetwood Mac. And the party had no reservations about using Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down," when the President walked onstage to hug Bill Wednesday night. But for me, the music highlight of the convention was cranking up Bruce's "We Take Care of Our Own" after the President's fierce acceptance address Thursday night. I was lucky enough to see Bruce at Wrigley Field last night, and his performance inspired this diary.
I just read this plea on behalf of Todd Akin by none other than David Catanese at Politico. The first money tweet:
"Poor phrasing, but if you watch the intv @ToddAkin meant to convey that there's less chance of getting pregnant if raped," he said.
"So perhaps some can agree that all rapes that are reported are not actually rapes? Or are we gonna really deny that for PC sake?" he said. "So looks like he meant to say -- 'If a woman was REALLY raped, it's statistically less likely for her to get pregnant.' What's the science?"
What's the science, David? Why don't you do your job and dig a little. I found the answer (below) in about 30 seconds. Catanese wrote the Politico cover story about Akin's comments. More below the squiggle.
It's late so this won't be long.
During the 2010 cycle a client of mine invited me to attend a fundraiser for Bob Dold at a suburban Chicago country club. The featured speaker was Paul Ryan. My client is also a pal who knows my political leanings. I was not asked to pay. Random thoughts below the squiggle.
Just caught this in my early morning browsing. Paul Krugman and Richard Layard have prepared a Manifesto of Economic Sense and have circulated it to a bunch of economists already. Click on the link to read it -- it pretty much summarizes everything Krugman has been writing about these last four years: austerity is no way out of the economic crisis. But they're asking economists to sign on and so far several dozen have done so. Richard Layard is a heavyweight economist in England, based at the London School of Economics, where he founded the Center on Economic Performance, and currently writes on happiness(!). Oh, and he's also a member of the House of Lords. This is a big deal in economic academic circles. Not that 5 million signatures will help change the mind of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, but it sort of crystallizes what's gone wrong with the world economies in one concise spot. And it asks economists to sign on.
I just caught this piece in TPM previewing Debbie Wasserman Schultz's attempt at damage control in Wisconsin. I think this sucks. Rather than playing to win, we are playing not to look to bad if we lose. Correction -- she appears to be setting the table for WHEN we lose. Somehow, I don't think that Howard Dean would have been taking this approach.
This is going to be short. Here is a link to a devastating new Scott Walker ad. It deftly advances the "divide and conquer" meme, intercutting the video footage with a speech one month later lying to the state about his intentions. Thanks to Jim Rowen at The Political Environment bringing this to our attention.
I was fairly pleased with the jobs speech last night, as I suspect the bulk of this community was as well. I also like what appears to be a tougher more pugnacious Obama 2.0. Hopefully he sustains it and I sincerely hope it works. He has a history of digging a hole and then extracting himself from it late-ish in the game. Look at his campaign as of September 14, 2008, the health care bill's passage, the lame duck negotiations. The outcomes on the latter two weren't great but they were fine, not real pretty to look at the process, but ok in the end. Can't say, though, that there wasn't a foreboding that the worst was yet to come.
Then came the debt ceiling fiasco. A real big hole. Now maybe the jobs speech and the American Jobs Act is the first step towards digging out of this hole, but Digby has a
great post from Friday afternoon that is very smart and very ominous. She explores how really deep the hole is.
If you want, you can skip my inadequate commentary and just go ahead and link to Digby's post.