Sunday, July 31, 2011
"It's fair to say that the engagement there is not in any meaningful way," Reid said. "Republican leaders still refuse to negotiate in good faith."
Reid said the notion both sides are making progress toward reaching an agreement is "not true."
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Friday, July 29, 2011
It's based on data from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Its significance is not partisan (who's "to blame" for the deficit) but intellectual. It demonstrates the utter incoherence of being very concerned about a structural federal deficit but ruling out of consideration the policy that was largest single contributor to that deficit, namely the Bush-era tax cuts.
An additional significance of the chart: it identifies policy changes, the things over which Congress and Administration have some control, as opposed to largely external shocks -- like the repercussions of the 9/11 attacks or the deep worldwide recession following the 2008 financial crisis. Those external events make a big difference in the deficit, and they are the major reason why deficits have increased faster in absolute terms during Obama's first two years than during the last two under Bush. (In a recession, tax revenues plunge, and government spending goes up - partly because of automatic programs like unemployment insurance, and partly in a deliberate attempt to keep the recession from getting worse.) If you want, you could even put the spending for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in this category: those were policy choices, but right or wrong they came in response to an external shock.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
3. The recovery: Gains made since the bottom fell out in late 2008 could slip away and “would no doubt have a very adverse effect very quickly on the recovery,” said Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke.
4. Your retirement: This one’s still up in the air. President Obama said recently that Social Security payments are on the line, should the country not be able to borrow. But budget analysts say that the administration could ensure that the checks are paid.
5. America’s credit: Standard & Poor’s said last week that there is a 50 percent chance it would cut the nation’s credit rating within the next three months. If no deal is reached, Standard &Poor’s said that the United States' credit would be reduced from AAA to D.
6. Businesses: In a no-deal scenario, businesses could squeak by without paying increased taxes. But when they see a 10 percent decrease in the gross domestic product, loss of confidence from foreign investors, and a consumer base slipping back into a recession, that tax freeze may look less appealing.
Monday, July 25, 2011
Sunday, July 24, 2011
But if today's tea-infused GOP were even one-tenth as sane as they were under the speakership of Newt Gingrich, the rank-and-file Democrats would have been stuck with a raw deal that would have included cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits and even a flattening of the progressively graduated income tax—a deal that a Democratic president put on the table. Whether such a deal arose through desire or necessity is irrelevant; it would have likely demoralized Democrats while allowing the right wing to blame Obama for the very cuts that it was insisting on. And once massive spending cuts and immediate deficit reduction had been accepted in all relevant quarters as the consensus path toward financial health and fiscal responsibility, the only question left was how far Obama was willing to accede to the adamantine rigidity of the grand old tea party before deciding that a deal that was getting worse all the time was in the end not worth making.
The only recent president who has faced an economic crisis more prolonged or more severe than the one our economy faces was the progressive legend Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who faced down both the Great Depression and the Nazis with equal aplomb and bested them both, and the contrast between how Obama is handling his economic showdowns with Republicans entering his reelection and how Roosevelt handled a similar time in his presidency could not be more clear. Obama has wanted to bring the nation above politics and create a grand bargain that incorporates ideas from both parties in an attempt to prove that our country is not as divided as our politics suggests, and he has, in his own words, been repeatedly left at the altar by Republicans with no conscience who want nothing more than to destroy him and his presidency. President Roosevelt, by contrast, was ideological: he was convinced that his way of managing the economy—the Keynesian approach of government as the spender of last resort—was right, and the austerity methods of the Republicans were wrong.
Unlike Obama, Roosevelt did not accept the conservative meme that macroeconomics and microeconomics have the same fundamental principles and that government has to "live within its means like families do." Instead, Roosevelt understood that economic downturns reduce national income and that reduced national income leads to further downturn, creating a deflationary cycle that can only be broken when government steps in to put people back to work and break the cycle—a consideration that came second to balancing the budget. At a campaign speech on Oct. 1, 1936, in Pittsburgh, Roosevelt outlined exactly this case:
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Now House liberals have hit on a fun new way of emphasizing this point: They are sending a letter today to every House Republican asking them to raise the debt limit. Only the letter wasn’t written by House liberals. It was written by Reagan himself.
Here’s the text of the letter Reagan wrote to then-Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker in 1983, a copy of which is being hand delivered from the Congressional Progressive Caucus to every House Republican this afternoon:
This letter is to ask for your help and support, and that of your colleagues, in the passage of an increase in the limit on the public debt.
As Secretary Regan has told you, the Treasury’s cash balances have reached a dangerously low point. Henceforth, the Treasury Department cannot guarantee that the Federal Government will have sufficient cash on any one day to meet all of its mandated expenses, and thus the United States could be forced to default on its obligations for the first time in its history.
This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world. The full consequences of a default or even the serious prospect of default by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate. Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar in exchange markets. The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result. The risks, the cost, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion: the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.
I want to thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent problem and for your assistance in passing an extension of the debt ceiling.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
“In order to create quality jobs here at home, we have to fight for a level playing field so that American businesses can create new jobs,” said Owens. “This legislation creates a level playing field after decades of manipulation by the Chinese government, which does not allow their currency to respond to the capitalist global market. This manipulation has unfairly contributed to the current state of our economy by creating a substantial imbalance of trade in favor of the Chinese, and it is well past time to put a stop to these tactics.”
Owens joined the launch of the discharge petition -- which can force action on legislation with signatures from 218 Members of the House of Representatives -- because the U.S. House Leadership continues to block its consideration. The legislation overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last year by a vote of 348-79 but was not considered by the Senate.
The Chinese government continues to intervene in the markets to suppress the value of its currency by as much as 25 to 40 percent. This unfair trade practice translates into a significant subsidy, artificially making Chinese imports into the United States cheaper and American imports to China more expensive. The resulting imbalance jeopardizes efforts to create and preserve manufacturing jobs in America.
The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 639) will help American businesses by treating fundamentally undervalued currencies as a prohibited subsidy, allowing the U.S. to take action to counter this unfair trade practice.
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Monday, July 11, 2011
Owens will update callers about his work to create jobs in Upstate New York, and then take questions from constituents during the hour-long call.A random sample of 40,000 residents in New York’s 23rd Congressional District — which includes Oswego and Madison counties — will be chosen to participate in the conference call Tuesday evening morning.
To request a phone call invitation, constituents from NY-23 can e-mail their name and phone number to this address or call the congressman’s Watertown office at 782-3150.