Saturday, June 11, 2011

Obama Wandering in the Wilderness

Here is a bit from a post by Robert Reich. He points out that Obama is out with the Republicans looking for supply-side "solutions" while the US economy is desperate for demand-side solutions. I've bolded the key bits:
“I am concerned about the fact that the recovery that we’re on is not producing jobs as fast as I want it to happen,” President Obama said Tuesday, amid the flood of bad economic news, including last Friday’s alarming jobs report.

Does this mean we’re about to see a bold package of ideas from the White House for spurring growth of jobs and wages? Sadly, it doesn’t seem so.

Obama says he’s interested in exploring with Republicans extending some of the measures that were part of last year’s tax-cut package “to make sure that we get this recovery up and running in a robust way.”

Accordingly, the White House is mulling a temporary cut in the payroll taxes businesses pay on wages. White House advisors figure this may appeal to Republican lawmakers who have been discussing the same idea. It would, in essence, match the 2 percent reduction in employee contributions to payroll taxes this year, enacted as part of the deal to extend the Bush tax cuts.

Other ideas under consideration at the White House include a corporate tax cut, accompanied by the closing of some corporate tax loopholes.

Can we get real for a moment? Businesses don’t need more financial incentives. They’re already sitting on a vast cash hoard estimated to be upwards of $1.9 trillion. Besides, large and middle-sized companies are having no difficulty getting loans at bargain-basement rates, courtesy of the Fed.

In consequence, businesses are already spending as much as they can justify economically. Almost two-thirds of the measly growth in the economy so far this year has come from businesses rebuilding their inventories. But without more consumer spending, businesses won’t spend more. A robust economy can’t be built on inventory replacements.

The problem isn’t on the supply side. It’s on the demand side. Businesses are reluctant to spend more and create more jobs because there aren’t enough consumers out there able and willing to buy what businesses have to sell.

The reason consumers aren’t buying is consumers’ paychecks are dropping, adjusted for inflation. And job losses are mounting. The 83,000 new private-sector jobs created in May represent a net loss because 125,000 jobs are needed merely to keep up with an expanding labor force. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits edged higher last week.

At the same time, many Americans are falling behind in their mortgage payments. And housing prices continue to drop – making homeowners feel even poorer.

Close to 60 percent of the half-trillion drop in household debt since the depth of recession has been defaults rather than repayments. This makes it harder for people who’d like to enter the housing market to get new mortgage loans, or for anyone to refinance. Other consumer debt burdens are rising. On Tuesday the Fed reported consumer credit outstanding rose in April – mostly from record-high levels of student-loan debt and an up-tick in credit-card borrowing due to food and gas price increases outpacing wage gains.

All this translates into a continuing crisis on the demand side. Consumers can’t and won’t buy more. Between January and March, sales grew just .15 percent around the country – perilously close to no growth at all. May sales look even worse. Chain stores are reporting weaker sales. Consumer confidence has dropped sharply.
There's more. Go read the whole post.

I continue to be utterly amazed at how an intelligent man like Obama can be so stupid. My only explanation is the wisdom of Upton Sinclair who said "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it". Obama's campaign was financed by Wall Street. So he is deaf to the voices of the unemployed, the under-employed, and the employed but going nowhere. He's attending to the voices of the ultra-rich, the get-rich-quick types of Wall Street who can seduce with big payola under the table.

On a slightly different front in the political war, here's Robert Reich pointing out that Obama needs to move right now and stop big corporations from using their money to buy & sell politicians:

2 comments:

thomas said...

RY;

I got a little upset at the headline I read this morning saying that he thinks job growth must come from the private sector.. The only way that will happen will be if the right incentives are used and not tax breaks. but something that will make hiring appear to save tax money.. People will spend money if they think it will save them in taxes. But, it has to come in a form that doesn't say "jobs creation" these people can't know that they are helping the economy.. They don't want to lower the unemployment numbers or in other words shorten the supply of worried bodies that will work for almost any wage. There are many forces at work to keep unemployment high and interest low. They have convinced the American people that inflation is just waiting for a chance to destroy us, so everyone is afraid of spending and the deficit.. Greed has taken over and the suffering of the unemployed and poverty stricken low income workers does not matter to these guys making millions on our current situation. Too bad that the course they have chosen will hurt everyone when things collapse.. Wouldn't it be great if only the sinners paid for their greed and callousness?

Obama is just one of the hired hands doing their bidding and may even have his own little stake in it.

RYviewpoint said...

Thomas:

Yep, you're right.

I would prefer that he did a kind of WPA and created lots of jobs for the unskilled and young. That's the fastest way to pump money into the economy. And it would let those with the biggest barriers get a leg up with some work experience. There's lots of work to be done from filling potholes, to painting, and cleaning up streets and parks. That kind of work doesn't require a year of planning and engineering work before you can start serious hiring.

People should be fighting for lots of hiring at city, county, state, and the federal level (just the opposite of the Republican "strategy"). People should fight for raising the minimum wage. People should be doing everything they can to strengthen the unions. There needs to be a great "get up off the mat and get back into the fight" spirit among the populace.

I haven't completely given up on Obama, but I'm really badly disappointed. I still hope he "gets religion" next year when he realizes his job is on the line.

I think it is tragic that the Great Recession didn't serve as a springboard for a renewed "American spirit". The Great Depression helped reset the American psyche from the excesses of the "Jazz generation" with all the partying and excesses and worshiping of the rich, to a culture of "the common man". The great books of Steinbeck, Hemingway, and John Dos Passos came out of the resurgence of art for the common man the 1930s.

I don't get the feeling that literature and art of today is responding to this era. It seems to me that those on top continue to be the same and they keep calling the same shots, so nothing is changing in the look and feel of things. Too bad.

But I'm an eternal optimist... maybe next year.