Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Republi-CON Continue to Try to Tank the Economy

UPDATE II:  "The aversion to government spending, and government activity generally, which animates many Americans isn’t actually based on economics, or logic: it is an emotionally driven belief system, founded upon a cockeyed view of American history and buttressed by a variety of right-wing shibboleths.

In the real world that rarely intrudes upon conservative economists and voters, both parties (and all Presidents) are Keynesians. Whenever the economy falters and private-sector spending declines, they use the tax-and-spending system to inject more demand into the economy. In 1981, Ronald Reagan did precisely this, slashing taxes and increasing defense spending. Between 2001 and 2003, George W. Bush followed the same script, introducing three sets of tax cuts and starting two wars. In February, 2009, Barack Obama introduced his stimulus. The real policy debate isn’t about Keynesianism versus the free market, it is about magnitudes and techniques: How much stimulus is necessary? And how should it be divided between government spending and tax cuts?
On both questions, Obama took the middle ground. His $800 billion stimulus program was smaller than many Keynesians, such as Christine Romer and Paul Krugman, wanted. (Romer reportedly pushed first for a $1.8 trillion package, then for $1.2 trillion.) Concentrated over a three-year period, it amounted to 1.1 per cent of G.D.P. in 2009, 2.4 per cent of G.D.P. in 2010, and 1.2 per cent of G.D.P. in 2011. So far, some $750 billion in stimulus money has been paid out: about $300 billion went to tax breaks for individuals and firms; roughly $235 billion was dispersed in the form of government contracts, grants, and loans; and another $225 billion was spent on entitlements—unemployment benefits, Medicaid, food stamps, and so on.

And what impact did the stimulus have? Without rehashing the entire debate—we’ve got another five months for that—here are three things to keep in mind.

1. It gave a much-needed boost to spending and growth. . .

2. The rise in federal spending under Obama was pretty modest. . .

3. Paul Krugman is right. To some extent, we already have a Republican economy. With the flow of stimulus money having all but dried up, and with continuing budget cutbacks at the state and local levels, government spending on many goods and services—the government spending that directly impacts G.D.P.—is falling.

You don’t believe it? Take a look at Table 1 in the Commerce Department’s latest report on G.D.P., and focus upon the section labelled “Government consumption expenditures and gross investment.” In 2011, you will notice, these expenditures declined at an annual rate of 2.1 per cent. In the first three months of this year, the rate of decline accelerated—to 3.9 per cent. The cutbacks have extended to all the major areas of government. Federal non-defense spending fell at an annual rate of 0.8 per cent in the first quarter; federal defense spending declined at an annual rate of 8.3 per cent, a shocking figure; state and local spending fell at a rate of 2.5 per cent.

It is a central tenet of Keynesian economics that when the government sector cuts back its expenditures in an economy with slack resources, worried households, and cautious business enterprises, output and growth will stall. That, of course, is precisely what has happened. In a saner world, we would be talking about what should be done right now, rather than after November, to rectify the situation."

Read The New Yorker, Reagan, Bush, and Obama: We Are All Still Keynesians.  

Read also, The Myth of Expansionary Austerity.  

UPDATE:  "[T]he best argument against Republicans’ claims that they can fix the economy. The fact is that we have already seen the Republican economic future — and it doesn’t work."  Read The New York Times, This Republican Economy.  

Republi-cons well know that any good news for the economy is bad news for their election hopes.

Their attacks on the Federal Reserve are "an effort to bully the Fed into doing exactly the wrong thing. The attackers want the Fed to slam on the brakes when it should be stepping on the gas; they want the Fed to choke off recovery when it should be doing much more to accelerate recovery. Fundamentally, the right wants the Fed to obsess over inflation, when the truth is that we’d be better off if the Fed paid less attention to inflation and more attention to unemployment. Indeed, a bit more inflation would be a good thing, not a bad thing."

Read The New York Times, Not Enough Inflation.

Since Obama was elected, Republi-cons have shown their willingness to sacrifice workers to appease their imaginary inflation god.

But there is not need to fear 'the invisible Republi-CON bond vigilantes'.