February 8, 2009

600,000 additional jobs lost in January.

Posted in foreclosure crisis, mortgage reform, taxes, U.S. Economy tagged , at 12:46 am by realitytax

U.S. Capitol buildingThe U.S. economy continues to reverberate from the policies (or perhaps lack of policies) that the Bush-Cheney administration championed since taking office 8 years ago, and by most accounts we’ve now lost over 3.5 million jobs during the recession that they bestowed upon the tax-payers and future tax-payers.  The layoffs are building momentum, the unemployment rate is soaring, yet certain members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives continue to support the trickle-down theories that brought us to this economic precipice. But it’s not their fault.

I don’t mean the state of the economy – that’s the fault of everybody who ever championed, or simply ignoredderegulation of the banking and financial industries.  No, it’s not their fault that they’re engaged in partisan theatrics at a time when the country has demonstrated a broad mandate for new approaches, because Nancy Pelosi tricked them.  The Speaker of the House got the minority to close ranks, to vote as a bloc to block the first version of the new Stimulus bill even though they had been altogether supportive of Bush’s unfettered spending as the previous administration was winding down, and now the Republican Senators are largely following suit.

Some strategists might suggest that at such a juncture the wise thing would be to give the newly elected President what he asks for, hoping that by the time the mid-term election rolls around they’d have something to point their fingers at if it fails while saying, “we did what he asked.”  But these savvy politicos couldn’t pass up the opportunity to close ranks when Pelosi ran a bill through quickly for a vote, and now they’re posturing desperately while the tax payers and voters watch more closely than the D.C. insiders are accustomed to – they’re being downright obstructionist, and that leaves the Democrats in a stronger position.

All the voters are seeing offered as alternatives by the Republicans is “cut taxes.”  Cutting taxes sounds pretty good to the people at the top end of the earning scales, but when you’re worried about losing your job and keeping food on the table your concern is not for the Capital Gains tax which is already considerably lower than the Income Tax, your concern is over staunching the flow of jobs before unemployment spirals to the levels of the Great Depression.  President Obama’s right to insist on timely action, the same sort of need the prior administration finally woke up to in the waning lame-duck days of their power.

 

Theatrics are alive and well in the Senate.

Theatrics are alive and well in the Senate.

What are the Republicans opposed to?  Not so much, it turns out: something under 1% of the spending, yet rather than come with proposals for the voters to contemplate their doing what worked in the past, made-for-Fox drama and histrionics, name calling.  While the President is visibly reaching out to find common ground, some of the most influential Republicans in the capitol are hoping for sound-bites of their outrage and opposition “you have to start from scratch” – they failed to realize that Nancy Pelosi invited them back into their old, discredited “we-they” postures for the national audience, and failed to understand the urgency and pain of their constituents as the layoffs and foreclosures continue.

I might counsel the Speaker to be less successful, but I know there’s no taking the politics out of the process.  I just hope the damage she’s done to the opposition doesn’t delay the repair the President’s crafting for the people.

The reality is the situation is urgent; we can’t allow the economy of the nation to falter and stall, we can’t afford it.  The decisions have to be made and plans launched by people who can’t remotely follow the calculus that economists such as Paul Krugman or Mark Anson employ.  Americans want to get back to work – and we want our elected leaders to do their work swiftly so we can stop laying off teachers and assembly line workers and losing their productive participation in our economy.

Maybe if we enforced layoffs in Congress in proportion to the rest of the country, or the budget, they’d get off their rhetoric and get the bill passed.

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