CBC show

Listen to me and a non-frothing right-winger (ah, Canadians, so temperate!): The Sunday Edition. “To help us unpack all that, I am joined this morning by two seasoned observers of matters fiscal and economic. In Ottawa, Jack Mintz, former chairman and chief executive of the C.D. Howe Institute and currently the Palmer Chair in Public Policy at the University of Calgary. And in New York, Doug Henwood, editor and publisher of the Left Business Observer.”

Not enough cows at the Treasury

A reminder of the great days of the mortgage bubble, from the same folks who brought you this afternoon’s U.S. Treasury downgrade, Standard & Poor’s: Official #1: Btw that deal is ridiculous. Official #2: I know right…model def does not capture half the risk. Official #1: We should not be rating it. Official #2: We rate every deal. It could be structured by cows and we would rate it. Of course, that’s because the dealmakers paid S&P for the ratings. Not so the U.S. Treasury—it gets S&P’s judgment for free.

Me on the CBC, Sunday

I’m scheduled to be on Sunday Edition on CBC Radio One this Sunday, discussing the debt melodrama with Jack Mintz of the C.D. Howe Institute, a right-wing think tank. Recorded it this afternoon. Canadian right-wingers just don’t seem as rabid as ours do.

Wild budget math

In 2000, we spent 3.7% of GDP on the military. The Pentagon didn’t have to hold bake sales. We’re now spending 5.4%. Merely going back to 2000 would save 1.7% of GDP, or $255 billion. If over the next decade we spent 3.7% of GDP instead of 5.4%, we’d save $3.6 trillion. That’s close to what many of the deficit hawks are aiming for. Let the Bush tax cuts expire and bump up the top rate a few points and everyone could have free child care and free college tuition! Of course to… Read More

Heritage Foundation: severely truth-challenged

I usually shy away from mocking the right—it’s too easy, it’s overdone by liberals, and it’s often a gateway to apologetics for the Democrats. But this is a doozy. In an effort to prove that Obamacare is responsible for the recent weakening in the economic recovery, James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation presents this graph: Seems odd, doesn’t it, that the average of the first segment, January 2009–March 2010, is +67,600 a month when the graph is below 0 for almost the whole time? Well, yes it is. The actual average change in… Read More

Varieties of exhaustion

Having become the de facto leader of the Republican party, at least when it comes to fiscal policy, Obama is now turning—again (didn’t he do this before? I recall some nonsense about a “hard pivot”)—to job creation. And he’s going to do what needs to be done: take a bus tour of the Midwest and do a few photo ops at factories. You might think that with a stalling economy and a high unemployment rate that could start drifting higher any month now, that he might want to try something more aggressive… Read More

Austerity = moral renovation

Writing in today’s New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer explains the politics of the debt melodrama: the parties are “jousting over the moral high ground on imposing austerity, with seemingly none of the political or practical motivations that have historically driven legislation.” Leaving aside the fact that half of one party (the Dems) have happily embraced the premises of the other—and also leaving aside the fact that the “high ground,” moral or otherwise, hasn’t much in evidence during this idiotic fight—Steinhauer is inadvertently onto something. Over the centuries, the period after the bursting of… Read More