Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Job Insurance – The Problem With “Temporary” Stimulus

In Budget Politics, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Inequality, Liberalism, Living Wage, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Poverty, Progressivism, Public Policy, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Unions, Welfare State, WPA on September 30, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Introduction:

Struggles over public policy take place on two levels – the day-to-day conflict over specific policies (should tax cuts be extended and for whom, whether we should balance the budget or stimulate) and the larger, often somewhat subterranean debates over the political economy of the country.

Behind debates (largely within the Democratic Party, given the Republican Party’s commitment to universal obstruction) over whether to “stimulate now, and cut later” or “cut now and cut later” is a division over what kind of economic order we want to have. The Stimulus Caucus broadly supports an economic order marked by more attention to unemployment levels, economic growth, and investments in infrastructure and human capital. The Pain Brigade by contrast supports an economic order marked by more attention to the profits of the financial sector, and maintaining weak regulations and low taxes on financial corporations, financial executives, and stockholders, and which is more comfortable with high levels of unemployment – as long as it means low inflation and low interest rates.

However, as much as I side with the Stimulus Caucus, I feel compelled to point out that their basic model of “stimulate now, cut later” is marked with a serious flaw: stimulating back to the pre-crash economy isn’t good enough, because the pre-crash economy has serious long-term problems that require permanent solutions.

Read the rest of this entry »

F*ck the Laffer Curve – Individual Vs. Social Consumption

In Budget Politics, California, Democratic Governance, Economic Planning, Economics, Full Employment, History and Politics, Inequality, Liberalism, New Deal, Political Ideology, Politics, Politics of Policy, Progressivism, Public Policy, Public Sector, Public Works, Social Democracy, Social Policy, Taxes, Welfare State, WPA on September 13, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Introduction:

The power of ideas to define the range of the possible and the acceptable can be seen in the fact that, despite nearly four years of budget austerity at the state level, California appears to be trying once again to cut itself out of a recession, or the fact that despite a stimulus that has appreciably worked, an incredibly modest proposal for public works and tax cuts is unlikely to pass Congress.

Among other things, this should point to the legacy of nigh-on forty years of anti-government rhetoric at the highest level of government. One angle into seeing the effects of this legacy is to look at the way that taxes are publicly discussed as either a net loss to the taxpayer (or outright theft by movement conservatives), and the government itself as a kind of black hole into which taxes disappear. The progressive alternative to this rhetoric that has yet to be comprehensively advocated for on the national stage is to emphasize that taxes pay for things, and that they are ultimately a question of individual versus social consumption.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.