Thursday, May 24, 2012

This Just In! Presidential Aspirant Can Read a Balance Sheet!

Good discussion of Romney and Bain by Martin Bashir and guests, standing in for Lawrence O'Donnell last night - special props to Joy-Ann Reid for devastating take-down of Willard's reference to Bain's Steel Dynamics start-up, which leaned heavily on tax-payer subsidies - including a tax increase - to make a large profit:


Is Greed Good? Professor Krugman Wonks Us Out With the Data

Krugman @ NYT:
From "Mitt Romney Is a Tool" - K. Genius & TBX

As the debate moves – appropriately! – to a discussion of Romney’s career at Bain, one thing I’ve noticed is that everyone on the right, and a fair number of people who should know better, basically believes that Gordon Gekko was right. Before the Gekkos came along, they assert, American business was sluggish, unproductive, and uncompetitive. Then came the LBOs and all that, and our economic energy was unleashed.
As I said, everyone on the right knows that this happened. Needless to say, none of it is at all true.

Let’s look at how trends changed after 1980 or so, when the underlying rules of American business (and politics) shifted. Start with productivity – I use a log scale, so that the slope of the trend represents the rate of growth. See the big acceleration? Neither do I – productivity growth has actually been slower since the rise of Bain-type operators.

The "Austerity Cliff" and the GOP's Military Keynesians

 Brian Beutler at TPM:

A giant austerity bomb is timed to go off at the beginning of next year, and the threat of significantly higher taxes and lower spending has Republicans running around the Capitol sounding more like John Maynard Keynes than John Boehner.

Automatic, across-the-board reductions to domestic and defense spending, combined with the looming expiration of the Bush tax cuts, will dramatically consolidate the budget in the next calendar year, if Congress does nothing. And despite bemoaning deficits throughout the Obama years, the GOP’s suddenly come around to the view that cutting government spending is a job killer.

Just listen to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

“Just when you thought the economic news could not get much worse with slow economic growth, with reduced wages because of higher costs, and with many people simply giving up looking for work with the lowest labor participation rate we’ve had in some time,” Cornyn warned reporters in the Capitol Tuesday, “we have an entirely predictable and preventable jobs crisis approaching in January, where because of the sequestration [automatic spending cuts], my state alone will lose 91,000 private sector jobs — and there are about a million private sector jobs at risk if the sequestration goes into effect on January 2.

This marks the return of the Defense Keynesians — Republicans who admit that government spending supports job growth in a weak economy, if and only if that spending is directed toward the military.

As luck would have it, a new Congressional Budget Office concludes Republicans are right about the economic consequences of defense cuts — but that their other fiscal priorities are just as perilous for economic growth.

If all the fiscal tightening scheduled for the beginning of the year is allowed to take effect, it will take a huge bite out of the projected deficit for the coming fiscal year.

Unfortunately, it’ll take a similarly large bite out of GDP — enough to threaten a new recession. And the resulting job losses would reduce tax revenues and increase spending on jobless benefits enough to undo billions of dollars in direct deficit reduction.