Oh, Jesus Christ, Ross Douthat is trying to climb into your vagina again.[...]
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In a way I blame some of you Negroes for this latest TrayvonMartin style killing in "cheese head" country. You kill each other so effortlessly and with such ease, that other folks feel that they can kill you (or people who look like you) without giving it a second thought.Also, as was the case with Martin, I have to blame the actions of the authorities in the aftermath of the killing of 13 year old Darius Simmons for making a bad situation worse. Hey, I understand what being "color aroused" will make certain people do crazy things,- it?s the price some of you will pay for being young and black in A-merry-ca -but part of the blame belongs to their peers, and a part of it can be pinned on the the forces that drive popular culture and news in this country. When you are already easily "color aroused" and you throw all these other factors into the mix, it can be a recipe for disaster. What I don?t understand is why the folks who are in positions of authority and who are trained to deal with these types of situations always make the same mistakes. It's as if they are "color aroused" as well.
"After speaking with the family, Community Activist, David Muhammad, said that police questioned Darius? mother for two hours while leaving his body on the sidewalk. Even after Darius was taken to the hospital, his mother was held in the police car. He was pronounced dead before she could get to him. Then police searched Darius? home and found nothing. Instead, they arrested his older brother for having truancy tickets. Police have stated that the lengthy questioning was necessary in leading to an arrest.
Spooner?s family, however, was allowed to return to Spooner?s home (also a crime scene) and retrieve personal items.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Spooner was upset that his neighborhood had turned from a majority Caucasian neighborhood to a mixed-race neighborhood. Darius and his family had recently moved next door to Spooner.
Darius regularly attended church and worked in the church?s community garden. His pastor, Steve Jerbi, described him as, ?The kind of kid who, one quick look from the pastor, he?d quiet down.?
Sorry pastor Jerbi, he looked like a "thug" to Mr. Spooner. In 21st Century America that is a death sentence. Your look can literally get you killed.
Sadly, John Henry Spooner shot Darius Simmons to death, but we all helped him pull the trigger. (h/t Tia for this story)
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Virginia?s legislature commissioned a $50,000 study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state?s shores. To greenlight the project, they omitted words like ?climate change? and ?sea level rise? from the study?s description itself. According to the House of Delegates sponsor of the study, these are ?liberal code words,? even though they are noncontroversial in the climate science community.
Instead of using climate change, sea level rise, and global warming, the study uses terms like ?coastal resiliency? and ?recurrent flooding.? Republican State Delegate Chris Stolle, who steered the legislation, cut “sea level rise” from the draft. Stolle has also said the “jury’s still out” on humans’ impact on global warming:
State Del. Chris Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, who insisted on changing the “sea level rise” study in the General Assembly to one on “recurrent flooding,” said he wants to get political speech out of the mix altogether.
He said “sea level rise” is a “left-wing term” that conjures up animosities on the right. So why bring it into the equation?
“What people care about is the floodwater coming through their door,” Stolle said. “Let’s focus on that. Let’s study that. So that’s what I wanted us to call it.”
There is a resistance to calling science what it is, even in the studies commissioned to investigate the impact of climate change. The reality is that coastal cities are spending millions to respond to rising sea levels, like Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk spends $6 million a year to elevate roads, improve drainage, and help homeowners raise their houses, according to BBC. Already, 5 percent to 10 percent of the city’s lowest-lying neighborhoods have heavy flooding. The world’s largest naval base, based in Norfolk, is spending hundreds of millions to replace piers to withstand rising water. Yet they manage to make no mention of climate change or sea level rise in their response strategy.
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This Week with George Stephanopoulos notes the passings of seven service members in Afghanistan.
US Army SPC Gerardo Campos, 23, Miami, FL
US Marines LCpl Joshua E Witsman, 23, Covington, IN
US Army PFC Vincent J Ellis, 22, Tokyo, Japan
US Army CPT Scott P Pace, 33, Brawley, CA
US Army 1LT Mathew G Fazzari, 25, Walla Walla, WA
US Marines Cpl Anthony R Servin, 22, Moreno Valley, CA
US Army PFC Brandon D. Goodine, 20, Luthersville, GA
According to iCasualties, the total number of allied service members killed in Afghanistan is now 3,043.
In addition, the following notable names lost their lives this week: Film producer Carol Ann Abrams, singer Herb Reed, Eduard ?Mr. Trololo? Khil, author Ray Bradbury, NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens, Labor rights activist Li Wangyang, Olympian Vladimir Krutov, musician Bob Welch, fashion designer Nolan Miller, and Iraq military officer Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti.
Hey, folks, I'm in the mood to post this, so here I am. I recognize the fact that most people really like Ben Affleck's most recent movie, The Town, and I would've wanted to like it, too, but imho, there's too much wrong with The Town for me[...]
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The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday suggested that President Barack Obama had personally authorized recent intelligence leaks.
On Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate leaks about details of drone attacks and special forces strikes. Critics have claimed that the White House disclosed the information to bolster the president's re-election chances.
"The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive," Obama told reporters during Friday press conference. "And people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office."
But Liz Cheney on Sunday insisted that the president himself could be the one behind the leaks.
"I'd like to see an independent investigation," she told Fox News host Chris Wallace. "If you've got members of the national security team -- which is what we know from reading [New York Times reporter] David Sanger's piece, that's what he says -- giving him chapter and verse of what went on in these National Security Council meetings then somebody's got to be held accountable for, you know, what is a betrayal to the nation."
"I do think that it's important -- as Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intel committee, has said -- that whoever is looking at this needs to be outside the chain of command so that you can be absolutely sure that it is followed to it's conclusion," she added. "And that may well be the president of the United States."
"If the president of the United States has been authorizing people on his national security team to brief The New York Times about one of our most highly classified programs, the American people have a right to know."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators in the probe of who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The vice president pushed for a full pardon and then-President George W. Bush eventually commuted Libby's 30-month prison sentence before he ever served a day in jail.
Many have assumed that Dick Cheney masterminded outing Plame to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, because he had cast doubt on the Bush administration's rationale for war with Iraq. But the the vice president told prosecutors that "I don't recall" telling Libby about Plame's identity.
Sen. Tom HarkinAFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said to a bleary-eyed but appreciative audience at a Saturday, June 9, morning panel at Netroots Nation that progressives need to stake out and hammer, hammer, hammer our policy positions on the economy. To give no quarter to Congress and the president when it comes to the creation of jobs and the protection of workers already on the job. That's not a new message from Trumka. Because he takes his own advice and hammers, hammers, hammers.
In a fiery Netroots Nation keynote address June 8, Darcy Burner, who is running in Washington's first district for Congress, said progressives tend to view politics as being all about having the best policy. However, she said, the fight is really about power. As obvious as that may sound, it's an essential reminder.
There's zero contradiction between Trumka and Burner in this matter. Whether you are David Koch working to demolish fossil-fuel regulations or Bernie Sanders trying to get 10 million residential solar rooftops installed, power is essential to your efforts. You can't get anything done without it and without knowing how to wield it once you do have it. But, for progressives, who are wisely and profoundly suspicious of power and its wielders, without a foundation of good policy the only point to obtaining power is to keep it out of the hands of others. To keep the Koch Brothers and their puppets at bay. While that is important, crucial, in fact, it's just not enough.
We know all too well that possessing good policy is no certain path to securing power. For one thing, the message machinery of our foes has its tentacles in every nook and cranny of our media, a power at least the equal of anything provided by their kennel of paid-for politicians. With this machinery, they can often transform public perception of the mildest proposal into the devil's own spawn by inventing a well-timed concoction of smear, fear, uncertainty, doubt and distraction.
That being so, with a national election less than five months away, any discussion of policy might seem a waste of time. It might seem better to focus solely on the details of building the grassroots ground campaign needed to defeat the truckloads of cash being delivered to candidates and to independent-from-the-candidates-but-not-really Super PACs. After all, it is said, making specific proposals rather than sticking to general principles in the midst of the horse race gives our foes specifics with which to flog us with their distortions and lies. And those lies and distortions keep good candidates from winning.
But this closed-mouth approach constitutes short-sighted thinking. Our foes will distort and fabricate no matter what. Avoiding specifics doesn't block bogus attacks, they enable them. A key way to obtaining the clout we need in Congress (and the state legislatures) to turn our progressive vision into reality is to present voters with some of the specifics of that vision so they will give us that clout. Otherwise, we're offering little more than a pig in a poke.
In March, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, introduced an package of legislation that echoes the New Deal and provides part of a blueprint to dig us out of the economic quagmire?the Depression, as economist Paul Krugman so rightly names it?that we find ourselves in. The package is called the Rebuild America Act. It's a smart, broad-based package about which Leo Hindery of the New America Foundation says:
The "Rebuild America Act" is the first piece of proposed legislation in the last decade that comprehensively addresses all of the far-ranging systemic problems confronting the American economy and the nation's workers. By addressing, at once, upgraded infrastructure, better education, fair wages, trade reform, tax reform and the imperative for a much larger, more stable manufacturing sector?each with identified objectives and outcomes?we can finally contemplate a tapestry of initiatives that will truly reinvigorate the middle class, achieve near full real employment, and eliminate our massive trade deficit in manufactured goods."Economist James K. Galbraith says:
Senator Harkin once again demonstrates his vision and leadership by presenting a bill that would actually forge what others only talk about: a powerful, effective and wide-ranging strategy to rebuild our American middle class.No one piece of legislation, not even a broad package can deal with all the aspects of what needs to be done to repair and rejuvenate the economy. Harkin's proposals aren't focused directly on income inequality, the power of elites, the need for strict regulation or a full-throated rollback of neoliberal policies?all matters which require our attention. But this nevertheless is a comprehensive bill that focuses on solving real problems of tens of millions of Americans.
One more caveat, the usual one needed in an election year: No way will this bill pass Congress. The GOP majority in the House would crush it. But that doesn't mean the bill, and others of its sort, shouldn't be proposed and debated and spotlighted. Because, as Richard Trumka says, we progressives need to stake out positions and hammer them, to show Americans what can be instead of incessantly focusing on the awfulness of what our foes' are doing and what they would do if they had even more political clout.
Here's the framework of the Rebuild America Act:
Title 1: Invest in America to Create Jobs and Future GrowthThe standard reply to such proposals is that we can't afford them. That the U.S. is broke and what we need to be doing is figuring out how to pay off the national debt. Many Democrats have bought into this backward thinking. But it has gotten a slap upside the head most recently from Paul Krugman in his new book, End Depression Now! And it was also the message of U.S. Uncut, a precursor or midwife if you will, of the Occupy! movement, which drew attention to the fact that America is not broke; it's a rich nation in which public money has been hijacked for purposes that shrink rather than expand the middle class while stuffing the counting rooms of the already wealthy.
As our economy continues to recover from the worst economic period since the Great Depression, we need to invest more wisely in programs that will create jobs and lay the groundwork for future growth. For decades, we have allowed the infrastructure that our nation?s prosperity is built upon to crumble. Our roads and bridges are outdated and unsafe, our education system is falling behind our global competitors, and too many factories are shuttered. To rebuild America?s foundation to create future growth, we must:
? Invest in America?s Roads, Bridges, and Infrastructure.
? Modernize America?s Schools
? Support Great Teachers
? Rebuild America?s Manufacturing Power
? Prepare Americans for Jobs of the Future
? Pursue Fair Trade
? Create Middle Class Jobs and Protect Middle Class Communities
Title 2: Create Financial Stability and a Better Future for Middle Class Families
Until the 1970s, Americans? wages rose in tandem with productivity growth. Since then, wages have stagnated even as Americans work longer hours and produce more. To help families stay in the middle class, we must help families? wages go farther and create more good-paying jobs with benefits that help families care for their children and plan for a secure retirement. To rebuild support structures that allow our families to prosper, we must:
? Alleviate the High Cost of Child Care
? Help Americans Enjoy Their Golden Years
? Protect Overtime Pay for Working Americans
? Prevent Americans from Having to Choose Between Their Health and Their Paycheck:
? Establish a Fair Minimum Wage
? Empower Hardworking Americans [by making unionization easier]
? Increase Job Opportunities for Americans with Disabilities
Title 3: Restore Fairness to the Tax Code
One of the reasons America?s middle class is struggling is that our tax code has become tilted in favor of very wealthy individuals and large corporations. Falling revenues have increased the deficit and made it impossible to invest in America. The Act will help to restore balance to the tax code that is critical for reducing inequality and fostering sustainable long-term economic growth while ensuring fiscal responsibility. To balance our tax code, we must:
? Institute the ?Buffet Rule?
? Adopt a Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax
? End Tax Breaks for Companies that Ship Jobs Overseas
? Make Wall Street Take Responsibility
taxpayers in order to help rebuilding our economy.
? Make Hedge Fund Managers Pay the Same Taxes as the Rest of Us
? Raise the Capital Gains Rate
? Protect Pensions
? Close Loopholes to Prevent Worker Misclassification
Every bullet point of the Rebuild America Act deserves its own elaboration, but let me focus for now on a handful.
Harkin's bill proposes to invest $300 billion over the next 10 years on infrastructure, everything from upgrading the energy grid to repairing some of the 70,000 U.S. bridges said to be substandard. That may seem like a lot of money. But the American Society of Civil Engineers calculates that our infrastructure deficit is $2.2 trillion (as of 2009). The Center for American Progress has proposed an even higher number, a $480 billion investment in infrastructure over a decade.
Investment is the key word. This isn't mere reframing of "government spending" for propaganda purposes. It's reality. Bad roads, decrepit waste-water facilities, crumbling schools, inadequate affordable broadband penetration are all drags on our economy, costing us hundreds of billions in lost opportunity and damaging us in various ways, including our health and safety. Taking away these drags, pre-empting these damages, building and rebuilding the economic foundation of the commons is investment of the highest order. The benefits to infrastructure are obvious enough. But they have the added attraction of providing jobs. For this proposal: an estimated 300,000 of them.
The key criticism of Harkin's proposal in this matter? Not enough dollars. But most assuredly a step in the right direction.
The Rebuild America Act would also boost the minimum wage, now at $7.25, because it has not kept pace with inflation. To achieve the same buying power as it had in 1968, the peak year, it needs to be $10.52 now. Harkin's proposal would phase in a raise to this level and then index the minimum wage to inflation. It would also increase the cap on income limits that currently mean workers who make more than $24,000 a year are ineligible for overtime pay.
Most critically, Harkin's proposal would make it easier for workers to unionize by boosting fines on companies that violate labor laws. Fines now are so low that employers treat them as just another cost of doing business. Several thousand workers are routinely fired or otherwise discriminated against for joining a union. Millions are thus intimidated from joining.
The United States is the only nation in the industrialized world that does not require employers to provide some kind of paid sick leave. Although legislative proposals for paid leave date back as far as the passage of the Family Leave and Medical Leave Act of 1993, nothing has been enacted. The Rebuild America Act includes paid sick leave. Forty percent of Americans currently have no guaranteed paid sick leave and 80 percent of low-paid workers go without. They must choose between a day of lost pay or going to work ill, which obviously is not healthy for them or their co-workers. Businesses which have no paid sick leave do themselves no favors since an ill worker on the job is unproductive and a risk.
Paid sick leave is just one of the many policies in the act that would help not only workers but also small businesses. That's why the Main Street Alliance says:
The single most important thing small business owners need to create jobs is more customers?more demand, not deregulation. Not weaker workplace standards that jeopardize the health of our workers and customers. Not toothless watchdogs for the financial sector actors that brought down the economy in 2008. Not more tax loopholes and "holidays" for corporate tax dodgers that drain our country's resources and tilt the playing field against small businesses. What we need is more customers. A strong middle class customer base is the bedrock of small business success. That's why we strongly support the Rebuild America Act."To reiterate, it's obvious the Rebuild America Act won't become law in 2012. But it's legislation that progressives ought to be touting this election year as part of our vision for a can-do America. That's a far more constructive and positive message than saying it's not worth proposing anything and incessantly whining about how nothing can get done with an obstructionist Congress in place. Obstacles never stop our foes from making their proposals and fighting to turn them into law.
When was the last time you heard anyone in America make the case that public education - from pre-K through graduate school - is intrinsically important to preserving democracy regardless of what it does for individual earnings potential?
For at least thirty years, if not longer, repugs have been pushing the myth that the purpose of education is to increase one's ability to make money. What they really mean is that the purpose of education is to churn out obedient corporate drones incapable of independent thought.
And if it's all about the money, then there's nothing to stop schools from raising tuition to ludicrous heights.
Nothing, that is, except tens of thousands of students in the street.
STUDENTS STRIKE IN QUEBEC: In late May, a Montrealer met a neighbor at one of the local casseroles, the boisterous marches that have captured the imagination of cities and towns across Quebec. Beating pots and pans to create the protest music that has filled the city's streets, the neighbor asked: "When does the demo end?" There was only one possible answer: "It ends with the revolution."
It is hard to imagine how the loud, joyous, spontaneous and illegal demonstrations that have been snaking their way through Quebec can end in any other way than with the fall of Liberal Premier Jean Charest. The initial spark that lit the protests was a plan to raise college and university tuition by a massive 75 percent over five years, ostensibly to better fund higher education without raising taxes. Students went on strike, refusing to go to class and blocking colleagues who tried. At its height, some 180,000 students were participating. After a dozen weeks, protesters augmented the classroom pickets with nightly demonstrations in Montreal, marked by occasional vandalism and considerable police violence. On May 18, the government tried to break the movement by passing the loi matraque, or "truncheon law," which suspended the semester until August and imposed severe restrictions on the right to protest in groups larger than fifty. But Charest and his ministers grossly miscalculated.
Four days after the law was passed, as many as 500,000 protesters marched through Montreal, violating the government's decree and thus participating in the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history. In protest of tuition hikes, students donned red felt squares to signify being "squarely in the red" while offering a broader critique of neoliberalism. Education should be neither a luxury good nor an individual investment in future earnings, the students argue, but rather a social good that the state provides to create a stronger nation.
Support for Charest's tuition hike dropped from 68 to 27 percent in the week following the special law's passage. Negotiations between the student unions and the government restarted May 28 but collapsed again on May 31. This means the ongoing protests will have a chance to broaden to include other neoliberal policies, including Charest's Plan Nord, which would commodify the province's natural resources. "The strike is the students'," a graffitied slogan reminds onlookers. "The struggle is everyone's."
Conservative media figures have mocked President Obama's concerns about continuing job losses in the public sector but experts say the job cuts are more severe than in other recoveries in recent decades and threaten the recovering economy.
Bill Kristol: Obama Thinks "The Problem With The Economy Is That The Government Isn't Big Enough." Fox News contributor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said on the June 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting's Fox News Sunday:
KRISTOL: This gaffe is revealing about President Obama. And it's his policy. He wants more public sector jobs. That's his address to the country, his radio address this past weekend was about how we - as you pointed out in your discussion with Mitch Daniels - is about how we need -- Congress needs to spend more money on public sector jobs, that will get the economy going again. So there's a fundamental difference here. The Republicans believe that the private sector is the engine of economic growth. And President Obama believes that the private sector is doing fine and that the problem with the economy is that the government isn't big enough. [Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Sunday, 6/10/12]
Liz Cheney Refers To Public-Sector Job Losses As "The Good That Is Being Done At The State Level." Later on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Fox News contributor Liz Cheney if reducing public-sector job loss is "an answer for the economy." Cheney responded that President Obama's call for public-sector hiring is "trying to undo the good that is being done at the state level":
CHENEY: One prominent economist said this week, Chris, that if more government spending were the answer then Greece would now be experiencing a new golden age. So obviously more government spending is not the answer. I think Bill [Kristol] is right. I actually don't think this was a gaffe. This is what President Obama believes.
And I think -- it's interesting if you look what happened, which is that you got responsible governors like Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie, even to some extent Governor Cuomo, a Democrat in New York, who are tightening their own budgets who are going through a process of fiscal responsibility, who are reducing their state deficits, who are reducing unemployment. But as a result they have had to in fact cut the government roles. And the president's prescription now is to use federal tax dollars to come in and essentially undo that. You know, the president ought to be in situation where he's saying "what's working at state level let's put that in play here. Let's make this a better place for the private sector to invest. Let's cut taxes and let's reduce government." Instead he is actually trying to undo even the good that is being done at the state level. [Fox Broadcasting, Fox News Sunday, 6/10/12]
Public Sector Has Lost Over 550,000 Jobs Since Mid-2009. Business Insider posted achart compiled from Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) showing that while private-sector jobs (blue) have been increasing since the beginning of 2010, public-sector jobs (red) -- most of which are at the local level but this also includes federal and state jobs -- continue to fall. The spike in the red line reflects the temporary hiring of Census workers in 2010.
[Business Insider, 6/8/12]
Wash. Post: State And Local Governments Continuing To Lose Jobs. The Washington Post created the following charts with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics which show how monthly private-sector job gains compare to monthly job losses in state and local government:
[The Washington Post, 4/29/12]
Calculated Risk: Public-Sector Job Loss Is A "Significant Drag On Overall Employment." Financial blog Calculated Risk highlighted how public-sector jobs during Obama's presidency (blue) compare to Bush's first term (red). Calculated Risk called these job losses "a significant drag on overall employment":
[Calculated Risk, 3/18/12]
EPI: Loss Of Government Jobs In Current Recovery Contrasts Sharply With Other Recent Recoveries. The Economic Policy Institute stated that if public-sector employment had increased the way it did in previous recoveries, "there would be 1.2 million more public-sector jobs in the U.S. economy today" and "these extra public-sector jobs would have helped preserve about 500,000 private-sector jobs":
The figure below compares trends in public-sector employment in the last four recoveries. The current recovery is the only one that has seen public-sector losses over its first 31 months.
If public-sector employment had grown since June 2009 by the average amount it grew in the three previous recoveries (2.8 percent) instead of shrinking by 2.5 percent, there would be 1.2 million more public-sector jobs in the U.S. economy today. In addition, these extra public-sector jobs would have helped preserve about 500,000 private-sector jobs.
There is reason to be optimistic, though, as public-sector losses have moderated recently. If the sector begins to actually add jobs in the coming months, the economy would benefit significantly in 2012 and beyond.
[Economic Policy Institute, 4/5/12]
The Economist: "Government Payrolls Typically Swell In Economic Recoveries" But"Not This Time." A May 12 article in The Economist noted that, although public-sector jobs usually increase following economic downturns, "for much of the past two years the biggest source of job losses has been the public sector." From The Economist:
On May 8th Mr Obama sent Congress a "to-do list", asking it for tax incentives and mortgage refinancing in the hope of boosting private job creation. Yet for much of the past two years the biggest source of job losses has been the public sector.
Government payrolls typically swell in economic recoveries, by 5.9% on average during the first 34 months after a recession has ended, according to data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics. Not this time, however: from June of 2009 government employment dropped by 2.7% (see chart). The 2.5m overall rise in employment since the downturn's end corresponds to 3.1m new private jobs, less 600,000 lost government ones. [The Economist, 5/12/12]
Krugman: During Reagan-Era Recovery, "Government Employment Had Risen By 3.1 Percent; This Time Around, It's Down By 2.7 Percent." From economist Paul Krugman's March 4 New York Times column:
By this stage in the Reagan recovery, government employment had risen by 3.1 percent; this time around, it's down by 2.7 percent.
If government employment under Mr. Obama had grown at Reagan-era rates, 1.3 million more Americans would be working as schoolteachers, firefighters, police officers, etc., than are currently employed in such jobs.
And once you take the effects of public spending on private employment into account, a rough estimate is that the unemployment rate would be 1.5 percentage points lower than it is, or below 7 percent -- significantly better than the Reagan economy at this stage.
One implication of this comparison is that conservatives who love to compare Reagan's record with Mr. Obama's should think twice. Aside from the fact that recoveries from financial crises are almost always slower than ordinary recoveries, in reality Reagan was much more Keynesian than Mr. Obama, faced with an obstructionist G.O.P., has ever managed to be. [New York Times, 3/4/12]
Wall Street Journal: Unemployment Rate Would Be Near 7.1% Without Government Job Cuts. Wall Street Journal reporter Justin Lahart stated that, all things equal, "if there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%." The post included the following chart:
Economist Mark Zandi: "Job Losses At State And Local Governments Is The Most Serious Weight On The Job Market." From an April 29 Washington Post article:
The state and local job losses are significant for several reasons, economists say. For one, these losses have a broad social impact. Laying off teachers means larger class sizes and fewer after-school programs, for example.
What's more, federal aid can go directly to state and local governments to prevent job losses, a relatively effective way to sustain economic growth. (Tax cuts, by contrast, can lead indirectly to job growth if they increase the amount of money consumers spend.)
"The job losses at state and local governments is the most serious weight on the job market," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, who has advised both parties.
Experts worry that the cuts will have lasting effects.
"There's a big body of research showing that a lot of the things that state and local governments spend their money on have long-term effects on the economy and society as a whole," said Nicholas Johnson, vice president for state fiscal policy at CBPP. "Cutting school funding now can hurt the education of a future workforce." [The Washington Post, 4/29/12]
Economist Scott Brown: Economy Would Be Growing A Full Percentage Point Faster Without Drag From Government Job Losses. From a June 6 ABC News report:
"The government is actually contributing to the slow recovery," said Scott Brown, the chief economist at the Florida-based financial firm Raymond James & Associates.
Brown said that if it were not for the "drag" of this public sector job loss, the economy would likely be growing a full percentage point faster, with GDP growing at 3 percent rather than at 2 percent.
"That would help mop up the jobs lost during the downturn," he said. "Factor in the drag from government and we are growing at a pace that's roughly enough to absorb the growth in population but not fast enough to make up much of the ground lost." [ABC News, 6/6/12]
Economist Joel Naroff: When The Public Sector Cuts Jobs, "The Private Sector Gets Affected." A September 2, 2011, U.S. News & World Report article quoted economist Joel Naroff who pointed out that "the private sector gets affected" by public-sector job losses. From U.S. News & World Report:
Those job losses are taking their toll on the national economic scene, and are in their own way creating more job losses in the private sector. "If we're losing [20,000 to 25,000] in the public sector, that's income and spending that doesn't occur. It's more like [35,000 to 40,000] jobs as a result of that," says Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors, an economic consulting firm based in Holland, Pennsylvania. "So one job isn't just one job; it's more than one job. And so the private sector gets affected," he says.
Behind those government job losses are budget cuts, particularly from states and local governments, many of which have lost revenues as lower incomes and lower property values lead to lower tax income. Those budget cuts mean fewer government contracts, which also leads to pain in the private sector. The winding down of the stimulus package also contributed to these losses, as federal assistance to state governments for things like extra Medicaid funding has disappeared, leaving many states with substantial budget gaps.
Altogether, the strain on the national economy is considerable. "There's no such thing as a free budget cut." says Naroff. "If the public sector trims [20,000 to 25,000] jobs a month, then the private sector has to create those jobs before the economy can add one job. That's the hole that the public sector puts the economy in at this particular point," he says. [U.S. News & World Report, 9/2/11]
CBPP: Government Job Losses Hurt Those Who Don't Work In Government. From a February 8 report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Here's how the economic damage from spending cuts happens: when lawmakers cut services they end contracts with private sector businesses and reduce spending on private sector goods, leading to layoffs or lower wages among private sector workers. When lawmakers cut services they also lay off teachers, firefighters, police officers, and other public sector workers (over 650,000 state and local government workers have lost their jobs since the recession hit the states). In turn, private AND public sector workers who are laid off, or who see their pay reduced, buy less and further reduce economic activity.
Deep cuts to state services also erode the foundations of a strong economy, in both the short and long term. Spending on education, transportation, and public safety has been shown to stimulate economic growth in the short run and is among the most important determinants of economic growth and job quality in the long run. Research also shows that expanding and improving upon these investments through well-targeted tax increases (in other words, finding new money to pay for better services) stimulates income and job growth. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2/8/12]
Brookings Institution: Government Job Growth Is Associated With Economic Recovery In Many Metro Areas. In June 2011, Howard Wial of the Brookings Institution observed that "government job growth is associated with the economic recovery of America's metropolitan areas" since 14 out of the 20 large metro areas with the strongest recoveries from the recession "gained government jobs since total employment began to recover in each metro area." By contrast 12 of the 15 major metro areas with the slowest recoveries "lost government jobs since total employment began to recover." Wial also noted that increased government employment boosts private-sector jobs and income:
I haven't been able to find anything else besides the growth of employment that's as closely associated with the strength of metropolitan economic recovery. Increased government employment means increased government spending, which means increased demand for goods and services and the creation of more private sector jobs and more private sector income. [The Brookings Institution, 6/22/11]
Wash Post.'s Klein: Public-Sector Job Losses Are A Problem That The Federal Government Could Actually Fix. In a June 8 post on The Washington Post's Wonkblog, Ezra Klein wrote:
Speaking of private-sector jobs, at this point the Obama presidency is net positive on private-sector jobs. Since February of 2009 -- remember, Obama wasn't president for most of January -- the economy has added, on net, 780,000 private-sector jobs. Hence the president's comments: The private sector's job creation machine is basically working, even if it would be nice to see it working faster. The public sector, conversely, has been losing jobs.
As a disclaimer, these numbers don't tell you very much. The bulk of the job losses came in early 2009, when Obama had just entered office and when his policies hadn't yet taken effect. Blaming him for what happened to the labor market in, say, March of 2009 is like blaming a firefighter for the damage the fire causes as his truck is pulling up. And even at this point in his presidency, the economy is driven by much more than his policy preferences. Europe, for instance.
That said, the place where you can most fairly blame the government for the shape of the labor market is in public-sector jobs. The federal government can choose to hire, fire or hold employment steady. It can give states money to keep emmployees on the job, or it can withhold that money. So the fact that the public sector is losing jobs isn't just a problem, but a problem that the federal government could, with 100 percent certainty, fix. [WashingtonPost.com, 6/8/12]
NY Times' Norris: Proposals To Prevent Public Sector Job Losses "Were Blocked By Republicans In Congress." From a January 6 New York Times post by chief financial correspondent Floyd Norris:
The declines in government jobs in both the Reagan and Obama presidencies coincided with major recessions, of course, which reduced tax receipts for all levels of government. If Mr. Obama had had his way, state and local government job losses in 2011 could have been reduced with more federal assistance, but such proposals were blocked by Republicans in Congress.
There is no reason to think Mr. Obama is as happy about the reduction in government workers as some Republicans. But like it or not, the Obama administration has turned out to be anything but a big-government one. [NYTimes.com, 1/6/12]