Democrats will almost certainly receive more votes than Republicans in the midterm elections. But gerrymandering and other factors have severely tilted the playing field, so they would need to win the popular vote by a wide margin to retake the House, and a huge margin to retake the Senate. I don’t know how it will turn out — or what will happen to the perceived legitimacy of the federal government if all three branches are controlled by people the voters rejected. Neither does anyone else.One thing we do know, however, is that Republicans have decisively lost the battle of ideas. All of their major policy moves, on health care, taxes and tariffs, are playing badly with voters.In fact, Republican policies are so unpopular that the party’s candidates are barely trying to sell them. Instead, they’re pretending to stand for things they actually don’t — like protecting health coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions — or trying to distract voters with culture war and appeals to white racial identity. The G.O.P. has become the party of no ideas.
“The 2008 financial crisis is (duh) a decade in the past; employment has been growing steadily since early 2010. Since nothing is forever, and proclamations that the business cycle is over have always ended in embarrassment, lots of people are looking for the sources of the next recession.
The thing is, there’s nothing out there as obvious as the housing bubble of the mid-2000s, or even the tech bubble of the late 1990s. So here’s my thought: maybe the next recession won’t be caused by one big shock but instead by the combined impact of several smaller shocks. There are arguably several mid-sized bubbles out there, from private equity debt to emerging markets. Stocks are priced as if there’s no risk despite omens of trade war, consumer confidence similarly seems to discount dangers. There’s probably other stuff I’m missing.
The point, anyway, is that we might be looking at a smorgasbord recession, one that involves a mix of smallish things rather than a single dominant item. And there’s a model for that kind of recession: the slump of the early 1990s.”
“So let me talk about three things:
The unsung success of macroeconomics
The excessive prestige of microeconomics
The limits of empiricism, vital though it is
The clean little secret of macroeconomics
There’s a story about quantum physics – not sure where I read it – about the rivalry between the physicists Julian Schwinger and Richard Feynman. Schwinger was first to work out how to do quantum electrodynamics, but his methods were incredibly difficult and cumbersome. Feynman hit upon a much simpler approach – his famous diagrams – which turned out to be equivalent, but vastly easier to use.
Schwinger, as I remember the story, was never seen to use a Feynman diagram. But he had a locked room in his house, and the rumor was that that room was where he kept the Feynman diagrams he used in secret.”
” . . . Why, then, didn’t we get the fiscal policy we should have had? There were, I’d say, multiple villains in the story.
First, we can argue whether the Obama administration could have gotten more; that’s a debate we’ll never see resolved. What is clear, however, is that at least some key Obama figures were actively opposed to giving the economy the support it needed. “Stimulus is sugar,” snapped Tim Geithner at Christina Romer, when she argued for a bigger plan.
Second, Very Serious People pivoted very early from concern about the unemployed — hey, they probably lacked the necessary skills — to hysteria over deficits. By 2011, unemployment was still over 9 percent, but all the Beltway crowd wanted to talk about was the menace of the debt.
Finally, Republicans blocked attempts to rescue the economy and tried to strangle government spending every step of the way. They claimed that this was because they cared about fiscal responsibility — but it was obvious to anyone paying attention (which unfortunately didn’t include almost anyone in the news media) that this was an insincere, bad-faith argument. As we’ve now seen, they don’t care at all about deficits as long as a Republican is in the White House and the deficits are the counterpart of tax cuts for the rich.
The end result was that policy moved quickly and fairly effectively to rescue banks, then turned its back on mass unemployment. It’s a story that’s both sad and nasty. And there’s every reason to believe that if we have another crisis, it will happen all over again.”
David Lindsay: It is all true. I remember when Obama became president, and Krugman spent the year after the melt down begging for a much bigger stimulus. He called for a second trillion ( or 800 billion) dollars of spending, to get the giant aircraft carrier which was the US economy moving again through the water.
“It’s worth remembering what Republicans said would happen before the A.C.A. went online: that it would fail to reduce the number of uninsured, that it would blow a giant hole in the budget, that it would lead to a “death spiral” of rising premiums and declining enrollment.
What actually happened was a dramatic fall in the uninsured, especially in those states that expanded Medicaid. The budget costs of expanding Medicaid and subsidizing other insurance have been significant, but estimates for 2019 suggest that these costs will be around $115 billion — much less than half the revenue lost due to the Trump tax cut.
What about that death spiral? Premiums on the health exchanges established by the A.C.A. initially came in much lower than expected, then rose sharply when the people signing up for those exchanges turned out to be fewer and sicker than insurers had hoped. But the markets have now stabilized, with only modest premium increases for 2019 and insurers returning to the exchanges.
And while the exchanges are covering fewer people than projected, Medicaid is covering more than expected, so that overall gains in coverage have been surprisingly on target. In early 2014, the Congressional Budget Office projected that under the A.C.A., by 2018 there would be 29 million uninsured U.S. residents. The actual number is … 29 million.”
I have watched almost half of the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. He is a great salesman, and a terrific friend, and listener. But, I think he is too extreme to be on our Supreme Court. As usual, Paul Krugman sharpens my knowledge and analysis. He wrote:
“Remember, Kavanaugh cut his teeth working for the Starr investigation into Bill Clinton — a genuine witch hunt that consumed seven years and tens of millions of dollars without finding any evidence of wrongdoing. And he personally spent years obsessively pursuing crazy conspiracy theories about the suicide of Vince Foster.
Then he spent time working in the George W. Bush White House, which made torture a routine part of policy. In his 2006 confirmation hearing for an appellate court judgeship he declared that he played no role in those decisions. Was he telling the truth? The answer might lie in those thousands of pages of records the Trump administration is refusing to release.
Strange to say, however, he emerged from that experience as someone who believes that presidents can’t be subject to legal investigations.
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh accumulated a record as an appellate judge — one that places him far to the right on everything from the environment, to labor rights, to discrimination. His anti-labor views are especially extreme, even for a conservative.
So who is Brett Kavanaugh? If he looks like a right-wing apparatchik and quacks like a right-wing apparatchik, he’s almost surely a right-wing apparatchik. Which brings us to the coming constitutional crises.”
I was deeply moved by the testimony of three children on day three. One was shot at in Florida by an assault rifle. She pulled a dead student over her body for protection. Kananaugh ruled that assault rifles could not be banned. One was an asthmatic in Maine. Kavanaugh ruled multiple times to role back clean air regulations.
“Message to those in the news media who keep calling Donald Trump a “populist”: I do not think that word means what you think it means.
It’s true that Trump still, on occasion, poses as someone who champions the interests of ordinary working Americans against those of the elite. And I guess there’s a sense in which his embrace of white nationalism gives voice to ordinary Americans who share his racism but have felt unable to air their prejudice in public.
But he’s been in office for a year and a half, time enough to be judged on what he does, not what he says. And his administration has been relentlessly anti-worker on every front. Trump is about as populist as he is godly — that is, not at all.
Start with tax policy, where Trump’s major legislative achievement is a tax cut that mainly benefits corporations — whose tax payments have fallen off a cliff — and has done nothing at all to raise wages. The tax plan does so little for ordinary Americans that Republicans have stopped campaigning on it. Yet the administration is floating the (probably illegal) idea of using executive action to cut taxes on the rich by an extra $100 billion.”
DL: Yes, Thank you. And here is a top comment I recommended:
Big IslandAug. 2
The term “Populist” was never, and will never be, accurate in describing him.
The word “demagogue” is the shoe that fits.
“a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument”
Reply 738 Recommended
“By now, it’s almost a commonplace to say that Trump has systematically betrayed the white working class voters who put him over the top. He ran as a populist; he’s governed as an orthodox Republican, with the only difference being the way he replaced racial dog-whistles with raw, upfront racism.
Many people have made this point with respect to the Trump tax cut, which is so useless to ordinary workers that Republican candidates are trying to avoid talking about it. The same can be said about health care, where Democrats are making Trump’s assault on the Affordable Care Act a major issue while Republicans try to change the subject.
But I think we should be seeing more attention devoted to the way Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court fits into this picture. The Times had a good editorial on Kavanaugh’s anti-worker agenda, but by and large the news analyses I’ve seen focus on his apparently expansive views of presidential authority and privilege.
I agree that these are important in the face of a lawless president with authoritarian instincts. But the business and labor issues shouldn’t be neglected. Kavanaugh is, to put it bluntly, an anti-worker radical, opposed to every effort to protect working families from fraud and mistreatment.”
David Lindsay: Yes, Bravo. Here is the top comment to enjoy.
Downtown Verona. NJJuly 30
As far as a majority of Republican and Trump voters are concerned, the United States Supreme Court is for enshrining Christian Shariah Law, negating the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts and preserving the inalienable right of White Christian Male terrorists to randomly slaughter as many Americans as possible based on their individual mood swings.
The corporate and 1% raping of 99% of America doesn’t really register with these voters.
As long as Republicans wave the slightly veiled neo-Confederate flag of White Spite, these voters are perfectly comfortable with 350:1 CEO:worker pay ratios, the elimination of class action suits, mandated corporate arbitration, the destruction of union/worker rights, the fouling of the water, the air and the land, and the elimination of all common sense regulation that protects consumers, citizens and the non-rich.
Trump and the Grand Old Plantation party know exactly what they’re doing and they’ve been doing it very effectively since 1968 when they began their neo-Confederate Strategy.
The Republican Party is no friend of anyone except the richest Americans.
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” Lyndon B. Johnson
Kavanaugh is for Corporate Shariah Law that reduces Republican voters to Grand Old Peasants.
D for democracy; R for right-wing, Randian radicalism.
“As I wrote the other day, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may call herself a socialist and represent the left wing of the Democratic party, but her policy ideas are pretty reasonable. In fact, Medicare for All is totally reasonable; any arguments against it are essentially political rather than economic.
A federal jobs guarantee is more problematic, and a number of progressive economists with significant platforms have argued against it: Josh Bivens, Dean Baker, Larry Summers. (Yes, Larry Summers: whatever you think of his role in the Clinton and Obama administrations, he’s a daring, unconventional thinker when not in office, with a strongly progressive lean.) And I myself don’t think it’s the best way to deal with the problem of low pay and inadequate employment; like Bivens and his colleagues at EPI, I’d go for a more targeted set of policies.”
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
“But I’m fine with candidates like AOC (can we start abbreviating?)” No, no NO! You can call her Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or just Ocasio-Cortez. The public is still learning her name and her record. You are part of the cabal. The NYT is on a secret mission to hide the fact that Ocasio-Cortez is also a hard-line environmentalist, and has called for a Green New Deal for sustainable energy development, soft words for a Marshall Plan of investment for combating climate change through sustainable energy development. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com
“Last week we learned that Novartis, the Swiss drug company, had paid Michael Cohen — Donald Trump’s personal lawyer — $1.2 million for what ended up being a single meeting. Then, on Friday, Trump announced a “plan” to reduce drug prices.
Why the scare quotes? Because the “plan” was mostly free of substance, controlled or otherwise. (O.K., there were a few ideas that experts found interesting, but they were fairly marginal.) During the 2016 campaign Trump promised to use the government’s power, including Medicare’s role in paying for prescription drugs, to bring drug prices down. But none of that was in his speech on Friday.
And if someone tries to convince you that Trump really is getting tough on drug companies, there’s a simple response: If he were, his speech wouldn’t have sent drug stocks soaring.
None of this should come as a surprise. At this point, “Trump Breaks Another of His Populist Promises” is very much a dog-bites-man headline. But there are two substantive questions here. First, should the U.S. government actually do what Trump said he would do, but didn’t? And if so, why haven’t we taken action on drug prices?”