I want to make something clear

I’ve long been a believer that a person should be able to argue/debate/dialogue without resorting to name calling and insults in order to prove their point.

With that in mind, I’d invite all of you (liberal and conservative) to try to aim a little higher when it comes to the rhetoric you choose to use. The last thing I want is for Blogging Blue to degenerate into a blog full of insult-hurling commenters, so if you can’t comment without insults, you should probably find somewhere else to go.

Mindset list 2015

My Alma Mater., Beloit College, is known for releasing their \"mindset list\" for the incoming freshman class of 2015.

It is basically a list to show you how old you have gotten and how young the college kids are. Here are some highlights:

23. There has never been an official Communist Party in Russia.

27. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been available on TV.

28. Jimmy Carter has always been a smiling elderly man who shows up on TV to promote fair elections and disaster relief.

46. Russian courts have always had juries.

47. No state has ever failed to observe Martin Luther King Day.

48. While they’ve been playing outside, their parents have always worried about nasty new bugs borne by birds and mosquitoes.

49. Public schools have always made space available for advertising.

60. Frasier, Sam, Woody and Rebecca have never Cheerfully frequented a bar in Boston during primetime.

61. Major League Baseball has never had fewer than three divisions and never lacked a wild card entry in the playoffs.

You can check the rest at the link above.

Evidence – Based Economics

The topic of the week here was economics, where Zach asked if we need another stimulus or if spending cuts are enough. Economist Dean Baker recently weighed in on this topic with a not so kind to President Obama essay, where he points out that exactly what we need is another stimulus!

President Obama is no longer paying attention to economists and economics in designing economic policy. Instead, he will do what his campaign people tell him will get him re-elected, presumably by getting lots of money from Wall Street.

The article said that President Obama intends to focus on reducing government spending and cutting programs like social security and Medicare. This is in spite of the fact that: “A wide range of economists say the administration should call for a new round of stimulus spending, as prescribed by mainstream economic theory, to create jobs and promote growth.”

The “tea party” and current republican leadership would have you believe that spending cuts is the final answer. The problem with that is it just does not make sense.

There, of course, is a theory as to how budget cuts could boost growth. The theory is that lower deficits in the present and/or near future will reduce fears that government spending will be crowding out private economic activity. This would lead to lower interest rates. Lower interest rates will provide a boost to investment and consumption. Also, lower interest rates in the United States will make dollar assets less attractive to investors. This will cause the dollar to decline against other currencies, improving our trade balance.

However, no part of this story makes sense in the current economic environment. US interest rates are already at ridiculously low levels, with the 10-year Treasury rate falling below 2.2% in the wake of the recent euro crisis. Does anyone really believe that the rate will go much lower even with large cuts to the budget?

Furthermore, even if interest rates did fall, it is difficult to believe that it would have much impact on either investment or consumption. Investment is not very responsive to interest rates even in the best of times. It is extremely unlikely that firms will rush to buy new equipment even if interest rates were to take another large plunge, when most are still operating with vast amounts of excess capacity. Consumers remain heavily indebted due to the collapse of house prices. Furthermore, the huge baby boom cohort is going to feel more need to save than ever with the government slashing its social security and Medicare benefits.

The trade side of the picture doesn’t look much better. The dollar continues to be a safe haven in uncertain times. Furthermore, China and other export dependent countries care little about US interest rates; they want to protect their markets in the United States. They are likely to keep the dollar from falling too much against their currencies no matter how low interest rates fall.

Of course when was the last time people like Paul Ryan and John Boehner even made real sense? I can’t remember either!

Just as we have many politicians who ignore climatologists in the design of energy policy, and politicians who think that biology has no place in teaching the origins of species, we now have politicians who think that economics has no place in designing economic policy.

This could be viewed as comical, but tens of millions of lives stand to be ruined. Ever since Keynes, we have known how to bring an economy back to full employment after it has fallen into a slump. Keynes’s basic insights have been supported by a vast amount of economic research over the last seven decades. And we have solid evidence showing that the limited stimulus pushed through by Obama in 2009 worked pretty much as predicted in generating growth and jobs.

But evidence, apparently, doesn’t matter at the White House any more.

Did the stimulus work? Of course it did!

By the way Wisconsin’s very own lightweight Senator Johnson has his own idea on how to stimulate the economy, and continues to embarrass himself and our great state!

Republicans ready to raise taxes on millions of Americans

But I thought Republicans in Congress were opposed to any tax increases of any kind…

Many of the same Republicans who fought hammer-and-tong to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring on schedule are now saying a different “temporary” tax cut should end as planned. By their own definition, that amounts to a tax increase.

The tax break extension they oppose is sought by President Barack Obama. Unlike proposed changes in the income tax, this policy helps the 46 percent of all Americans who owe no federal income taxes but who pay a “payroll tax” on practically every dime they earn.

I’d love to hear some of you conservatives out there explain to me how raising taxes isn’t really a tax increase.

President Obama’s perilous pragmatism

Here’s a snippet from a blog entry that’s well worth a read…

Liberals are weary of defending the President against charges he’s a socialist by pointing out he’s more conservative than Bush ever was. We voted for a Democrat. Is it too much to expect that he act like one? Are we wrong to wonder whether he is compromising our principles or his own? Are we wrong to demand he stop barking and start biting—start fighting, like our future depends upon it?

Obama has requested that we Americans call our Representatives and Senators and tell them we’re tired of gridlock. While you’re at it, I suggest you call the White House and tell them the solution to gridlock is not consensus—or triangulation, for that matter.

In related news, recent polling by Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows that Democratic enthusiasm about voting in next year’s election has hit a record low this month. According to the polling, only 48% of Democrats on PPP’s most recent national survey said they were ‘very excited’ about voting in 2012, while that figure was 49% on the survey before that. Of note is the fact that the two most recent polls are the only times all year the ‘very excited’ number for Democrats has dipped below 50%.

According to Tom Jensen of PPP, the recently enacted debt ceiling “compromise” (capitulation) may have a lot to do with a lack of enthusiasm for Democrats looking ahead to the 2012 election.

The debt deal really does appear to have demoralized the base, and the weird thing about it is that this is one issue where if Obama had done what folks on the left wanted him to do, he also would have had the support of independents. The deal has proven to be a complete flop in swing states where we’ve polled it like Colorado, North Carolina, and Ohio. And in every single one of those states a majority of voters overall, as well as a majority of independents, think new taxes are going to be needed to solve the deficit problem.

Count me among those Democrats who aren’t “very excited” about voting in 2012.