“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
Paul Krugman: Hey, Small Spender
Here’s the narrative you hear everywhere: President Obama has presided over a huge expansion of government, but unemployment has remained high. And this proves that government spending can’t create jobs.
Here’s what you need to know: The whole story is a myth. There never was a big expansion of government spending. In fact, that has been the key problem with economic policy in the Obama years: we never had the kind of fiscal expansion that might have created the millions of jobs we need.
Ask yourself: What major new federal programs have started up since Mr. Obama took office? Health care reform, for the most part, hasn’t kicked in yet, so that can’t be it. So are there giant infrastructure projects under way? No. Are there huge new benefits for low-income workers or the poor? No. Where’s all that spending we keep hearing about? It never happened.
Robert Kuttner: Obama Calls the Question on Geithner
By pocket-vetoing the bill that sailed through Congress to expedite mortgage foreclosures, President Obama may have begun a chain reaction that will blow up Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s confidence game with the banks. Let me explain.
In early 2009, Obama and his top economic aides faced a fateful choice: either do an honest accounting of the nation’s big insolvent banks, like Citigroup; or keep propping them up and collude with the banks in camouflaging just how bad things were — and still are.
They opted for camouflage. Geithner and the Federal Reserve devised a “stress test” exercise that avoided an honest accounting of the junk on the banks’ balance sheets; instead they used economic models based on very rosy assumptions about how bad the recession would be. Citi and the others were pronounced basically healthy.
E.J. Dionne Jr.: Shadowy players in a new class war
The 2010 election is turning into a class war. The wealthy and the powerful started it.
This is a strange development. President Obama, after all, has been working overtime to save capitalism. Wall Street is doing just fine, and the rich are getting richer again. The financial reform bill passed by Congress was moderate, not radical.
Nonetheless, corporations and affluent individuals are pouring tens of millions of dollars into attack ads aimed almost exclusively at Democrats. One of the biggest political players, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, accepts money from foreign sources.
The chamber piously insists that none of the cash from abroad is going into its ad campaigns. But without full disclosure, there’s no way of knowing if that’s true or simply an accounting trick. And the chamber is just one of many groups engaged in an election-year spending spree.
Dean Baker and Sarita Gupta: Memo to the Tax Cut Party — Painful Double-Digit Unemployment Doesn’t Have to Continue
A modest tax on Wall Street financial speculation could raise more than $150 billion a year — money that would go a long way toward funding a serious jobs agenda.
here is a depressing complicity among much of the political leadership about the recession. Many politicians seem prepared to accept that we will have sky-high rates of unemployment for the indefinite future. Projections from the Congressional Budget Office and other authoritative forecasts show the situation improving little over the next few years.
At the moment, this means 15 million people unemployed, 9 million under-employed and millions of other workers who don’t even get counted because they have given up hope of finding a job and stopped looking. It is outrageous that we have this situation. Allowing high unemployment to continue for years into the future is unacceptable.
We know how to get the unemployment rate down.