Monday, February 23, 2015

Quick links and thoughts...

In an article at the New York Times, they write, "A Quinnipiac University poll in Colorado, a crucial swing state, released last week indicated that 58 percent of voters said they wanted the next president to “change direction from Barack Obama’s policies".

Other than Obama's proposed TPP trade deal (which is horrible), what "economic" policies does this "58 percent" disapprove of? After all, Obama proposed raising the minimum wage and closing corporate loopholes to raise revenues to fund more infrastructure spending (to put more people back to work) — as well as equal pay for women, and a host of other good ideas that he and the Democrats can't get passed by the GOP. It seems to me that if this "58 percent" didn't like what Obama was doing, they should have voted Democratic in the last mid-terms — so that Obama could actually get his proposals enacted.

A Hillary Clinton advisor (Terry McAuliffe) said "things are booming”, but that is just for the top one percent — so he is totally out of touch, as will be Hillary if she tries running on that line. She wants to propose a plan to offer "incentives" to corporations that increase profit-sharing with employees. (What "incentives" — more tax breaks?)

And if the Republicans think they "ought to focus on national security", what ideas might they have — besides just sending troops to the Middle East without raising taxes to pay for a new war?

In another article by the New York Times, they write, "With the early stages of the 2016 presidential campaign underway, and millions of Americans still hurting financially, both parties are looking for ways to address wage stagnation. That’s the good news. The bad news is that both parties are offering tax cuts as a solution. What has hurt workers’ paychecks is not what the government takes out, but what their employers no longer put in." (At least somebody gets it.)

Paul Krugman: (also at the New York Times) "It’s repeated so widely that many people probably assume it’s unquestionably true. But it isn’t, there’s no evidence that a skills gap is holding back employment. Rising inequality isn’t about who has the knowledge; it’s about who has the power." (Well said my man!)

Krugman again, in another post (at his blog): "If my math is right, the 90s ended 15 years ago — and since then wages of the highly educated have stagnated. Why on earth are we still hearing the same rhetoric about education as the solution to inequality and unemployment?" (Because the "job creators" need their excuses for paying low wages.)

Robert Reich at his website: "We’re all becoming independent contractors. The rise of 'independent contractors' is the most significant legal trend in the American workforce – contributing directly to low pay, irregular hours, and job insecurity. What makes them 'independent contractors' is the mainly that the companies they work for say they are. So those companies don’t have to pick up the costs of having full-time employees. It’s become a race to the bottom. Once one business cuts costs by making its workers 'independent contractors'' every other business in that industry has to do the same – or face shrinking profits and a dwindling share of the market ... They take these jobs because they can’t find better ones. And as the race to the bottom accelerates, they have fewer and fewer alternatives. " ( Just As I earlier noted: The trend in using temp workers doesn't look temporary.)


  1. Well, the Q-poll results are really no surprise. Obama's been a master of double-talk. Dems will pay a heavy price for hitching their wagon to him.

    Dems had a chance to bury the GOP for good back in 2009 and they didn't want to. Thomas Frank's article does a good job clarifying that:

    1. Thanks. That post primarily mentions the way Obama initially handled the financial crisis and it's aftermath: "He wasn’t forced to choose Tim Geithner to run the bailouts or Eric Holder to (not) prosecute the bankers or Ben Bernanke to serve another term at the Fed (etc)".

      I agree with all of that, but in a few of my other posts, I list many other ways he and the Dems screwed up — such as when they had both chambers of Congress in 2009/10 ---

      Not passing tax reform when they had a chance; passing that joke of reform for insider trading by members of Congress (The Stock Act); not enforcing Dodd-Frank (with some Dem members now trying to weaken it); not raising the minimum wage, (etc); not raising the cap for Social Security; (etc.) — too many to list here.

      But when Obama was first elected, he made no such promises, and only after Occupy Wall Street, did the Dems and he really start talking about wages and other more populist ideas. It wasn't until the 2012 election did they start messaging in this way. In 2014, if they could have taken back the House and kept the Senate, they might have had a chance to finally prove themselves on those promises. But now with a GOP, none of those things are ever going to happen.

      We'd need someone like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren as POTUS, as well as more progressive members in the House and Senate.

  2. Elizabeth Warren's Loved By Progressives. But They're Torn On Convincing Her To Run For President.

    * My prediction: Warren won't run, Hillary will (after neutralizing Warren), and we'll be stuck with another political dynasty (either Clinton or Bush), and nothing will change.

  3. Too little, too late.

    Over the objections of Wall Street and some financial regulators, the White House announced Monday that it plans to move ahead with a new rule that will hold investment brokers to a higher standard, requiring by law that they act in the best interests of their clients.

    The so-called fiduciary duty rule would prevent certain brokers from considering their own profits when they steer clients into particular investments, likely cutting into the fees those brokers receive when they advise clients on 401(k)s and other retirement accounts.

    White House officials said on a conference call with reporters that in the coming months, the Labor Department will release a proposed rule that lays out the full details of the plan. Jason Furman, chair of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, said on the conference call that the "economic theory" behind the proposal is "very clear."

    "When you have a broker who has their compensation directly tied to the advice they're giving to a person -- often with that person not knowing that that's the case -- they're going to ... have a big incentive to steer people [to products] that aren't necessarily in the best interest of the client but offer them the greatest compensation,' Furman said.

    A version of the rule was first rolled out in 2010 but was later tabled, thanks to heavy lobbying by the financial industry. Consumer advocates and backers of stricter Wall Street regulation have since been calling on the White House to press ahead with reform.

  4. "Unions are people my Friend!"

    Soon, only corporations will be able to fund elections.

    How Right-To-Work Laws Hurt Unions

  5. Dean Baker on TPP -- funny as Hell -- at TruthOut:

    “Anything is fair game when the political establishment wants to pass major trade agreements like NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. At such times we see respectable Washington types making pronouncements bearing so little relationship to reality they would cause Sarah Palin to cringe ... It is only when the question is one of jobs for U.S. workers that the risk of such a rebellion becomes an unacceptable price. Finally the bad story that we are supposed to fear, “scuttling the entire project,” should arouse howls of derision everywhere. Wow, all those industry folks spent years trying to craft a deal that would boost their profits by circumventing laws and regulations in the U.S. and elsewhere, and now their efforts may prove pointless? Pass the handkerchief, I can’t hold back the tears."