POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Paul Krugman says President Obama must lead the government effort to create jobs, and he’s right … but even if Obama takes an aggressive lead, it is not at all clear exactly what is to be done (Krugman offers no guidance) … or how long it will take … or how much it will cost … Above all, Mr. President, be honest with us. We know we’re in trouble. We’re looking to you to move us in the right direction, with intelligence and compassion, prepared to roll over anyone who gets in your way

Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 5, 2011

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Paul Krugman writes in the NYT (8/5/11) …

  • The economy isn’t recovering, and Washington has been worrying about the wrong things.
  • Not only are vast numbers of Americans unemployed or underemployed, for the first time since the Great Depression many American workers are facing the prospect of very-long-term — maybe permanent — unemployment.
  • Among other things, the rise in long-term unemployment will reduce future government revenues, so we’re not even acting sensibly in purely fiscal terms. But, more important, it’s a human catastrophe.
  • To turn this disaster around, a lot of people are going to have to admit, to themselves at least, that they’ve been wrong and need to change their priorities, right away.
  • Of course, some players won’t change. Republicans won’t stop screaming about the deficit because they weren’t sincere in the first place: Their deficit hawkery was a club with which to beat their political opponents, nothing more — as became obvious whenever any rise in taxes on the rich was suggested. And they’re not going to give up that club.
  • But the policy disaster of the past two years wasn’t just the result of G.O.P. obstructionism, which wouldn’t have been so effective if the policy elite — including at least some senior figures in the Obama administration — hadn’t agreed that deficit reduction, not job creation, should be our main priority.
  • The Fed needs to stop making excuses, while the president needs to come up with real job-creation proposals. And if Republicans block those proposals, he needs to make a Harry Truman-style campaign against the do-nothing G.O.P.
  • This might or might not work. But we already know what isn’t working: the economic policy of the past two years — and the millions of Americans who should have jobs, but don’t.

read the entire column at … http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/05/opinion/the-wrong-worries.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

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LMW COMMENT …

I agree with Krugman, as far as he goes. The time for timidity and compromise is over. There is no debt ceiling issue until after the next election.  Now is the time for President Obama to take the leadership reins and push the Republicans to the wall.

The problem is that it is not clear what should be done. Krugman offers no specific guidance. He says millions should have jobs, but what government policies would have achieved that?

And would they be good jobs that lead someplace or just ‘make work’? It may be that many of the so-called ‘lost jobs’ in America are gone forever, and that we need a whole new approach, including new industries like alternative energy, and far better education that doesn’t waste 50% of our population, and intelligent government support along the lines of an industrial policy which is anathema to many conservatives who will cry “socialism.”

All of this is complicated, uncertain, and expensive. Every proposed solution carries with it a full range of heavy costs and potentially bad consequences.

It’s a tough job, Barack, but you wanted it and now you must do it. I and many others will be supporting you, but you must take the lead. You must figure out what you think will work and then argue for it, and sell it to the American people, so that even if the brain-dead Republicans fight you every step of the way, as they will, you struggle on, if necessary until the 2012 election changes the playing field one way or the other.

Above all, be honest with us. We know we’re in trouble. We’re looking to you to move us in the right direction, with intelligence and compassion, rolling over anyone who gets in your way.

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7 Responses to “* Paul Krugman says President Obama must lead the government effort to create jobs, and he’s right … but even if Obama takes an aggressive lead, it is not at all clear exactly what is to be done (Krugman offers no guidance) … or how long it will take … or how much it will cost … Above all, Mr. President, be honest with us. We know we’re in trouble. We’re looking to you to move us in the right direction, with intelligence and compassion, prepared to roll over anyone who gets in your way”

  1. I think we need to mobilize people to make clear not that we “support Obama,” but that we want particular things. And that if Obama DOES them, THEN we will support him. He needs to learn that our support is conditional. He can’t take it for granted. He must earn it. Either he will take the lead in these matters, or we will look for someone who will. Getting the sort of things that have been listed above done is far more important than whether any particular person holds office. Let’s not put the cart before the horse.

  2. Chris said

    1) Lets not stop with Iraq & Afghanistan Libya is of serious consequences. Just ask China and Russia.
    2) The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act fall short of reform and consumer protection.
    3) Campaign reform and term limits must come from the people. Washington will never do either.
    4) Jobs could be increased by producing more of what we use. Which will be come more common as shipping around the globe becomes costlier.
    5) Build roads repair infrastructure is a good use of government capitol. Of course there is little government capitol when you are borrowing 40% of what you spend.

    Perhaps back in the day Democrats cared about the little guy but that was then. There is little difference between the two in what actually happens in Washington. The argument that if we where in power we could fix it is old and proven to be unfulfilled. Both parties have had the opportunities and continue to fail the people. Current President included his list of broken promises get longer ever month.

  3. Good points, but I wasn’t impressed when there was a Democratic majority a few years ago. They rolled over to Bush quite a bit, didn’t they?
    I’m on your side, but I want to know how we can get a critical mass of people to know what their and the nation’s true interests are? And then get Democrats to serve these people and not moneyed interests?

    • Lew Weinstein said

      I was disgusted with the Democrats in Congress during the Bush years and also during the first two years with Obama. I believe Harry Reid should have dared the R’s to actually filibuster, and let them take the consequences of looking like fools. I’m still am not impressed, although people like Debbie Wasserman Schutz are a breath of fresh air. But I try to remember that life and politics are not perfect. You work with what you have and try to elect better people.

  4. Obama could have pushed the brain-dead Republicans to the wall last week by explaining clearly to Americans what the extremists were doing (holding us hostage, blackmail), why they were doing it (to get cuts they couldn’t get otherwise), and what would happen if the debt ceiling were not raised (economic calamity). Then he should have said he would not negotiate with terrorists. And KEPT beating this drum. These people would have looked like churlish fools. If they still persisted, amidst his scolding and ridicule, they would have lost lots of favor among Americans. And if they persisted, he could have raised the debt ceiling himself (the 14th Amdt argument) and explained to the nation that he had no other choice. And again explained all of the above. And explained it again. But what did he do? He caved in to them and has left himself little wiggle room to do anything on jobs, etc. We need someone in that office who will FIGHT and lead. He’s had enough time to show us that he is not that person.

    • Chris said

      Paul Krugman is right on this! Better late then never. Lewis your comments seem to be also correct. Unfortunately most of the jobs have been shipped over seas or downsize in an effort to increase corporate profits’. To address the issues facing this country we must take a new approach. We cannot continue to fight three endless wars, subsidize Wall Street and big business. We need to change the path we are on as a country. We can no longer try to be the ruling empire.

      • Lew Weinstein said

        Several steps are of the highest priority

        1. get out of Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … already underway … Libya so far is of small consequence and I think it will be resolved sometime soon.

        2. implement appropriate regulations over Wall Street and other financial institutions … in process with general legislation actually adopted (The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010.), but specifics are bogged down and unlikely to emerge without election of Democratic House/Senate

        3. change campaign financing to eliminate contributions from business … this will require a change in the Supreme Court to overturn Citizen’s United … not possible until at least one Republican leaves the court, which is not likely to happen any time soon … the alternative is to elect a House/Senate of either party who have pre-committed to substantial campaign financing reform … not likely

        4. jobs overseas … corporations are supposed to maximize their profits … that’s their purpose … they are not social service or governmental agencies … if we truly want to control corporate jobs overseas, we need Congress to pass legislation … and there are serious potentially negative consequences from doing so in terms of our corporations’ ability to compete on a global scale … complicated issue … not likely … maybe not even desirable

        5. jobs here … build roads, fix bridges, mass transit, alternative energy facilities, etc, etc … all require large governmental expenditures (investments in our future as well as jobs now, just like Republicans used to support but no longer do) … today’s Republicans will never approve … solution: elect Democrats

        If it sounds like most solutions require Democrats in Congress rather than Republicans, that’s exactly true. That’s why I support Democrats, who care far more about the middle class and the poor and our future as a nation than do Republicans, who care mainly about the wealthy (a fact that seems to have eluded the Tea Party Republicans who, funded by the Koch brothers, almost always work against their own interests).

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