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Pelosi’s Picks for Super Committee Embrace Tea-GOP Economics and Budget Gibberish

3:05 pm in Economy, Government by Scarecrow

If you’re hoping that Nancy Pelosi’s picks for the Congressional Super Committee have either the wisdom or courage to stand against the job-killing spending cuts Obama and Congress imposed on the nation, you’ll be disappointed.

Two of Nancy Pelosi’s picks, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), revealed that their understanding of depression economics is no better than Herbert Hoover’s or Michele Bachmann’s. From Brian Buetler at TPM:

Democrats on the new joint deficit Super Committee will seek more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction they’ve been tasked with finding, in order to help offset some of those costs [of funding jobs programs].

“All of us would like to set as a target for ourselves even more than $1.5 trillion,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who’s also the top House Democrat on the Budget Committee, told reporters at a Tuesday Capitol press conference. . . .

Committee member Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) agrees with Van Hollen, and says he’d be willing to put key progressive programs on the table if it gives Congress more running room to shore up the economy now.

“It’s incumbent upon the Congress and the government not to make things worse,” Becerra said. “I’m looking at the last six months and I’m not seeing how job growth has come from some of this cutting of services, but again I’ll be open to it so long as…there’s proof that the proposal will lead to job growth and deficit reduction.”

Where do they come up with these absurd notions? Read the rest of this entry →

Scarecrow’s Nightmare: Austan Goolsbee Defends President Romney’s Economic Plan

7:00 am in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

If I’d been asleep for the last decade and woke up to ABC This Week’s interview of Presidential economic advisor Austan Goolgbee, I would assume that Mitt Romney won the 2008 election, that he was predictably following Republican dogma about how to recover from a severe financial collapse and recession and that intelligent media folks like Christiane Amanpour were realizing those standard GOP policies aren’t working.

Goolsbee correctly told us that a smart economist wouldn’t get overly excited about one month’s jobs and growth numbers but would instead look at the overall trend. Of course what he wouldn’t want to concede is that GDP grew at a meager annual rate of 1.8 percent over the first three months of 2011 and so far was predicted to grow at only 2.8 percent for the next three. And the overall trend for job growth was still not enough to make a serious dent in unemployment unless you believe taking 5-10 years to get back to full employment is okay.

So Goolsbee was in denial from the opening moment because he didn’t have a decent story to tell even in his own framework. When Amanpour asked him what the Administration could or should be doing to improve conditions, he ticked off items you’d expect to hear from a typical GOP Presidential adviser: we’ve got to get the debt under control; we have a White House effort to identify and get rid of governmental regulations that are preventing the private sector from growing the economy; we should pass “free trade” agreements backed by the Chamber of Commerce; and we should leverage limited public dollars to release billions in private funding for investments.

Goolsbee’s bottom line: “It’s now up to the private sector.” That’s exactly what you’d expect from President Romney’s economic adviser.

It took Paul Krugman and Chrystia Freeland, over the absurd denials by Martin Regalia of the Chamber of Commerce, to remind ABC’s audience that business confidence and concerns about taxes and regulations aren’t the problem: business polls repeatedly show businesses aren’t expanding/hiring much because the demand for their products is weak. Demand is weak because the recession and the housing market crash depleted consumers’ wealth and they’re worried about losing their homes and jobs. You don’t need a degree in economics to grasp the logic of that. When private spending is still depressed, only government spending is keeping the economy afloat, and the stimulus is phasing out.

Goolsbee pointed to Joe Biden’s talks, but it’s blindingly obvious the Biden effort is counter-productive. Democrats should be demanding it be refocused on jobs or shut down.

Regalia’s main talking point, completely unsupported by theory, logic or facts, is that the economy would boom if only the government would “get out of the way.” It’s a wonderful myth if you’re fronting for Wall Street, trying to defang the puny financial regulations from Dodd-Frank, and think the greatest threat to Wall Street’s continued looting is Elizabeth Warren. But we should remember the “get out of the way” mantra the next time Wall Street self immolates, tanks the economy and a former Goldman Sachs CEO become Treasury Secretary gets on his knees to beg Nancy Pelosi to bail out every major Western bank on the planet.

I’m sure I imagined all this. The country wouldn’t possibly be dumb enough to elect an unprincipled moral chameleon like Mitt Romney President. And we’d never put up with someone as defensive and unconvincing as Goolsbee was today, though we’d wonder how the voters got taken.

No, that couldn’t be real, so when I really wake up, I’ll let you know what the adviser for the actual Democratic President said today about the sagging economy and the undefensible unemployment numbers.

More: DeLong, citing Mark Thoma, asks, “where is Plan B?”

Jane Hamsher on Larry O’D's Last Word: “People Are Hurting. We Need Leadership”

9:25 pm in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Firedoglake’s Jane Hamsher was on MSNBC/Lawrence O’Donnell’s Last Word show Wednesday night, along with Adam Green of Progressive Change Campaign Committee. Together, they pushed the President and Democratic Congressional leaders to show real leadership in the tax cut and unemployment fights and not simply pretend to lead with meaningless votes they know they’ll lose.

In particular, Jane called out President Obama and Congressional Democrats for staging doomed kabuki votes but failing to lead a tough fight on the tax cut and unemployment issues, leaving their members exposed to another embarrassing and pointless loss, while leaving the real and very desperate needs of 15 million unemployed Americans and their families unmet.

House Speaker Pelosi and Democratic Congressional leaders have signaled they will hold a vote on Thursday on whether to extend the Bush-era tax cuts on incomes up to $250,000 for couples ($200,000 for individuals). Extending the cuts for incomes above that level would not be included in the measure.

But a simple up/down vote would allow Republicans and conservaDems and more to sabotage the effort via a procedural motion to direct the preferred measure to include extending the cuts to all higher incomes too. The conservaDems and Republicans could then combine to pass a permanent extension of all tax cuts, including an unconscionable gift of $700 billion to the richest 2 percent of Americans.

So the Democratic leadership strategy is to structure a vote that precludes this procedure, but it requires a two-thirds majority — and no one expects the Democrats can muster all of their troops plus dozens of Republicans to achieve that. In short, the argument goes, this is all kabuki, a show to mollify the base or use for campaign fodder in 2012, but doomed to fail.

So Jane is rightly calling them out. There are millions of real people hurting. We need to extend unemployment benefits for the two million people who are about to lose them. We need real jobs programs. We need to address real problems and not just engage in kabuki politics and meaningless votes that fail to accomplish anything.

The country desperately needs real leadership on the issues that matter, but we’re not getting any from Obama or anyone else.

Rachel Maddow Gets a Clue on Who Killed the Public Option

6:58 pm in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Watching Rachel Maddow’s recent reporting on efforts to create momentum to include a public option in the health care reconciliation, I had assumed she realized Congress was just pretending and only a miracle would get them to behave responsibly.

But Friday night’s discussion suggested Rachel did not know, or had forgotten, that neither the Senate nor the White House ever seriously considered allowing a public option to be part of the reform bills.

Chris Hayes correctly described the scene as a game of Clue, in which the game is structured to conceal who killed the idea. But unlike the board game in which you gradually eliminate suspects, Congress the leadership seems dead set on making everyone in the Democratic Party look guilty.

We have the Speaker of the House unable to explain why, when she controls the content of the initial reconciliation bill, she can’t include the public option because the Senate won’t vote for it.

We have the Majority Whip in the Senate issuing conflicting clarifications that it will whip for a bill without the PO, or no, with the PO, even as the Senators secretly urge Ms. Pelosi not to force them to vote either way.

And we have the President of the United States hiding from his own dishonesty in both publicly promoting the idea with his supporters while directing his aides to prevent it from ever coming to pass.

I guess next we’ll hear it was Jane Hamsher, in the blogger room, with the whip.

It’s all disheartening to watch. I’m frankly more sympathetic to the predicament imposed on Nancy Pelosi by this unprincipled White House and the feckless Senate leadership. But make no mistake. Not one of the Democratic leaders in Congress or the White House has been honest or courageous enough to be straight with us. Is it too much to ask they stop lying?

The current plan is for the House to take a dive. They’re expected to vote for an unpopular Senate bill at the risk of their careers. In exchange, they get to vote on a reconciliation fix they fear will not be sufficient to save them, while leaving out key elements they know they’ll need to sell the plan.

They know most of the "liberal" Obama supporters expect them, not the Senate, to take the risks, since no one is demanding the Senate pass the original House bill and fix that if needed. Once they adopt the Senate bill, House members have no assurance the Senate will follow through and enact the promised fix, and they suspect many in the Senate, and probably the White House, don’t care if the House takes the hit.

The truth is, the Senate and White House will force the liberal House to bear all the risks, but no matter what happens, Rahm Emanuel will call it a "win."

Rachel is right: Nancy Pelosi should call the bluff and put a strong PO — a Medicare buy-in available through the exchanges — in her reconciliation bill. Then let the White House carry the burden and the risks of getting its signature agenda proposal through the Senate. That would be a great "win" for Rahm and his boss, but they need to earn it.

File under Amazing Kreskin:
Jane, Countdown to Lieberman
Jane, Obama passes the public option hot potato
Jane, Steny Hoyer passes the hot potato

Health Summit: Nancy Pelosi Reminds Obama About His Support for Public Option

3:07 pm in Uncategorized by Scarecrow

Speaker Pelosi used her closing comment at today’s Health Care Reform Summit to remind the President that he once claimed to support the public option.

She then calls out Reps. Boehner and Camp on their misstatments.

Speaker Pelosi:

Mr. President, I harken back to that meeting a year ago. At that time, Senator Grassley questioned you about the public option.

And you said the public option is one way to keep the insurance companies honest and to increase competition. If you have a better way, put it on the table.

Well, I bring that up because we have come such a long way….As a representative of the House of Representatives, I want you to know that we were there that day in support of a public option which would save $120 billion, keep the insurance companies honest, and increase competition.

She closes with this:

Yes, it’s hard to do this. The misrepresentation campaign that has gone on about these bills, it’s a wonder anybody would support them, as Mr. Waxman said. But the fact is, as the President said, many of these provisions on their own are largely supported by the American people.

So this will take courage to do. Social Security was hard. Medicare was hard. Health care for all Americans, insurance reform is hard. But we will get it done.

And as we leave this debate, I think that many of the differences that we have are complicated, and they’re legitimate. They’re differences of opinion about the role of government and the rest. But I think it’s really clear on one point that the American people understand very clearly: They understand that there should be an end to discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions.

The proposals that we have put forth end discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions. The Republican bill does not.