Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

UPDATED: I'm thinking about offering my "share in the Brooklyn Bridge" to Barack Obama and Harry Reid

UPDATED: I'm thinking about offering my "share in the Brooklyn Bridge" to Barack Obama and Harry Reid

 

I mean, I could probably convince them to pay me at least a couple mil for my my title to the Brooklyn Bridge, which I'm printing up on the office copier right now. Seriously, are there two dumber negotiatiors on the face of the planet? A couple of weeks ago, House Republicans came in with their final offer of $33 billion in spending cuts, and when it was all over the Dems were giving them an extra $6 bil and probably a toaster-oven and whitewall tires to boot. I don't think the Democrats even understand how this whole negotiating thing works.

But the real victiory for the GOP has been keeping the focus on the numbers -- sure, who doesn't want the government spending less money, until you find out what it was actually for...which has not been well publicized. Generally, spending cuts takes dollars and more importantly jobs out of the economy, and that may not be something we can afford right now. The Washington Post's Ezra Klein had the smartest stuff on this:

That story misses something important: Clinton’s success was a function of a roaring economy. The late ‘90s were a boom time like few others -- and not just in America. The unemployment rate was less than 6 percent in 1995, and fell to under 5 percent in 1996. Cutting deficits was the right thing to do at that time. Deficits should be low to nonexistent when the economy is strong, and larger when it is weak. The Obama administration’s economists know that full well. They are, after all, the very people who worked to balance the budget in the 1990s, and who fought to expand the deficit in response to the recession.

Right now, the economy is weak. Giving into austerity will weaken it further, or at least delay recovery for longer. And if Obama does not get a recovery, then he will not be a successful president, no matter how hard he works to claim Boehner’s successes as his own. Clinton’s speeches were persuasive because the labor market did a lot of his talking for him. But when unemployment is stuck at eight percent, there’s no such thing as a great communicator.

Indeed. Obama may be gambling his whole presidency that the "economic recovery" is strong enough to absorb these cuts. If he's right, he looks like a genius, but if he's wrong, it's not just Obama who loses next year. We all do.

UPDATE: Here, by the way, is what happens in the real world with an austerity program before a fragile national economy has truly recovered:

Some of the UK's most prominent business leaders, including individuals who gave their personal stamp of approval to the chancellor's aggressive spending cuts, have said they have growing concerns about the state of the economy, warning of weak growth and rising inflation ahead.

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Will Bunch
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