Tag Archives: debt

Peterson Thinks We Need Austerity While He Lives It Up!

By Joe Firestone

The Peterson Foundation reacted to the President’s budget document with a report repeating its usual whining about the debt problem, and the need to cut entitlements. Here are quotations from the report and my explanations of why they are ridiculous deficit/debt terrorist nonsense.

While today’s deficits are much lower than those during the financial crisis and recession, over the next ten years debt will remain at historically high levels under the policies outlined in the President’s budget. Over the long term, our debt is on a rising and unsustainable path that harms our economy and threatens our future standard of living.

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How to Restore the Good Name of Government

By Joe Firestone

Why is it that Washington village “progressives,” and their associates in other parts of the country who are nevertheless part of the Washington village culture, often ask useful questions, but, almost always deliver, underwhelming answers? Here’s an example from Richard Eskow, probably the best writer at Campaign for the American Future.

How do we restore the good name of government spending, which is especially important during periods of high unemployment and slow growth like these? First, by supporting those politicians who are unafraid to make the case. Second, by demanding that the reluctant ones take a bolder stand – without mixing their messages between spending and premature austerity. Third, by rejecting the insanity that today’s Republican Party represents. Some in the GOP are even opposing infrastructure spending – as America’s bridges, schools, highways and dams decay around us.

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What that Letter Should Have Said

By Joe Firestone

On Valentine’s Day, Senator Bernie Sanders sent a letter to the President, authored by himself and signed by 15 other Senators, all Democrats. The letter was a response to the rumors that the President intends to include his Chained CPI proposal to cut Social Security benefits in the budget he will soon send to Congress. It summarized:

“Mr. President: These are tough times for our country. With the middle class struggling and more people living in poverty than ever before, we urge you not to propose cuts in your budget to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits which would make life even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable people in America.

We look forward to working with you in support of the needs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor – and all working Americans.”

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Dear Dr. Krugman: Please Let Me Explain

By Joe Firestone

Paul Krugman can’t explain why the deficit issue has suddenly dropped off the agenda. He says:

. . . quite suddenly the whole thing has dropped off the agenda.

You could say that this reflects the dwindling of the deficit — but that’s old news; anyone doing the math saw this coming quite a while ago. Or you could mention the failure of the often-predicted financial crisis to arrive — but after so many years of being wrong, why should a few months more have caused the deficit scolds to disappear in a puff of smoke?

Why indeed are they so quiet? Could it be because the deficit hawks have succeeded in getting the short-term result they want, which is a likely deficit too small to sustain the private savings and import desires of most Americans, and also because the political climate is such right now that they cannot make progress on their longer term entitlement-cutting program until after the coming elections have resolved the issue of whether there will be strong resistance to such a campaign if they renew it? Let’s look at the budget outlook first.

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UPI Treats Monetary Fiction as Fact: Sows the Seeds of the GOP’s Efforts to Cause a Recession

By William K. Black

In the course of researching yesterday’s column that explains why Tyler Cowen’s faux “hyper-meritocracy” endangers our world I read a number of articles discussing the Northwestern University study on the public policy views of the wealthy.  One of those columns was published by UPI on February 24, 2013.

One of the central points that the scholars who conducted the study made was that the wealthy use their political clout to try to cause the American public to adopt the belief of the wealthy that reducing the federal budget deficit, in response to the Great Recession, was the most important problem facing America.  In my column yesterday I noted that the scholars pointed out the logical incoherence of that position given the wealthy’s strong support for the policy view that the federal government should run budget deficits as a counter-cyclical fiscal policy to a recession.

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Government Debt and Deficits Are Not the Problem. Private Debt Is.

By Michael Hudson
(Remarks by Prof. Michael Hudson at The Atlantic’s Economy Summit, Washington DC, Wednesday, March 13, 2013)

There are two quite different perspectives in the set of speeches at this conference. Many on our morning panels – Steve Keen, William Greider, and earlier Yves Smith and Robert Kuttner – have warned about the economy being strapped by debt. The debt we are talking about is private-sector debt. But most officials this afternoon focus on government debt and budget deficits as the problem – especially social spending such as Social Security, not bailouts to the banks and Federal Reserve credit to re-inflate prices for real estate, stocks and bonds.

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THE MYTH OF DEBT

By Chris Cook
(Cross posted from www.heraldscotland.com)

FROM the latest cuts to the economic forecasts to the Italian elections to the gathering debate about how George Osborne should play this year’s Budget, all discussions about the financial system now lead swiftly back to the world’s sovereign debt problem. It towers over every effort to get back to prosperity, threatening to take decades at best before it can be resolved, very possibly with an almighty crash along the way.
But maybe that is because we are looking at a 21st-century problem in a 20th-century light. My research at University College London indicates that the answers might lie in modern versions of legal structures and instruments which pre-date the modern financial system and even the incorporating Union of England and Scotland in 1707. But before I explain this “back to the future” proposal for recovery, a warning: we’ll need to turn much of the received wisdom that underlies modern economics and politics upside down as we proceed.

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IN PRAISE OF POLITICAL DYSFUNCTION

By Marshall Auerback

The lamentable state of American political parties has become common sport amongst the chattering classes in DC and beyond. Although, one wonders whether this dysfunction has really been such a bad thing, when considering how united bipartisan “responsible” action always seems to result in yet more budget cuts.

By virtue of the fact that Congress and the Obama Administration couldn’t agree on much for the past few years, America’s deficits got large enough to put a floor on demand. The transfer payments via the automatic stabilisers worked to stabilise private sector incomes and allowed a general, albeit tepid, recovery in the economy.

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L. Randall Wray’s Presentation at Lewis and Clark College

L. Randall Wray recently presented at the Steinhardt Lecture at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon. The title of his presentation was: “Fiscal Cliffs, Debt Limits, and Unsustainable Deficits: Can the US Really Run Out of Dollars?”

The video and matching slide presentation are provided below. Media Roots created a transcript of the presentation. You can access it via this link. Continue reading

Six “Facts” On Our Debt: Corrections to Robert Solow’s Op-Ed

By L. Randall Wray

In yesterday’s NY Times, Nobel winner Robert Solow tackled the US debt debate, proclaiming that while it is a serious issue, many Americans are not aware of the facts.

Solow is a “neoclassical synthesis” Keynesian, the type of Keynesian economics that used to be taught in the textbooks. He was also on the wrong side of the “Cambridge controversy,” as the main developer of neoclassical growth theory. Still, he’s often on the “right side” when it comes to macro policy questions. And at least part of what he says about the US national debt is on the right track. But he gets enough confused that it is worthwhile to correct the errors.

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