Friday, August 15, 2008

More on the McCain/Bush Economic Philosophy...

Articles n' stuff for this week's 'toon:
  • David Corn on McCain's now-former (or not-so-now-former?) "economic guru" Phil Gramm:
    Because of the swap-related provisions of Gramm’s [2000 Commodity Futures Modernization Act] — which were supported by Fed chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury secretary Larry Summers — a $62 trillion market (nearly four times the size of the entire US stock market) remained utterly unregulated, meaning no one made sure the banks and hedge funds had the assets to cover the losses they guaranteed.
    These unregulated swaps have been at “the heart of the subprime meltdown”...

  • Thomas Frank:
    Fantastic misgovernment of the kind we have seen is not an accident, nor is it the work of a few bad individuals. It is the consequence of triumph by a particular philosophy of government, by a movement that understands the liberal state as a perversion and considers the market the ideal nexus of human society. This movement is friendly to industry not just by force of campaign contributions but by conviction; it believes in entrepreneurship not merely in commerce but in politics; and the inevitable results of its ascendance are, first, the capture of the state by business and, second, all that follows: incompetence, graft, and all the other wretched flotsam that we've come to expect from Washington.
    And, yes, there has been greed involved in the effort -- a great deal of greed. Every tax cut, every cleverly engineered regulatory snafu saves industry millions and perhaps even billions of dollars, and so naturally securing those tax cuts and engineering those snafus has become a booming business here in Washington. Conservative rule has made the capital region rich, a showplace of the new plutocratic order. But this greed cannot be dismissed as some personal failing of lobbyist or congressman, some badness-of-apple that can be easily contained. Conservatism, as we know it, is a movement that is about greed, about the "virtue of selfishness" when it acts in the marketplace.

  • Robert Reich:
    Inequality on this scale is bad for many reasons, but it is also bad for the economy. The wealthy devote a smaller percentage of their earnings to buying things than the rest of us because, after all, they're rich. They already have most of what they want. Instead of buying, the very wealthy are more likely to invest their earnings wherever around the world they can get the highest return.
    The only way to keep the economy going over the long run is to increase the real earnings of middle-class and lower-middle-class Americans. The answer is not to protect jobs through trade protection -- that would only drive up the prices of everything purchased from abroad. Most routine jobs are being automated anyway. Nor is the answer to give tax breaks to the very wealthy and to giant corporations in the hope they will trickle down to everyone else. We've tried that, and it hasn't worked. Nothing has trickled down.
  • Andrew Leonard on "Obamanomics":
    Obama ventured into adamantly protectionist territory in his denunciation of NAFTA and other free-trade agreements. Later, having secured the nomination, he admitted that he might have gone just a bit overboard in the heat of the moment. What might that tell us about how he would govern? Economic justice and fairness are undoubtedly central to Obama's worldview, but his liberalism is not necessarily the liberalism of a Bobby Kennedy, or even a John Edwards. His liberalism is pragmatic, detail focused and full of trade-offs.

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