Dick Price: At the American Civil Liberties Union’s Pasadena/Foothills Chapter forum this past Tuesday, September 11th, advocates made their case for three particularly contentious initiatives on California’s November ballot:
Robert Reich: The two American economies — the Big Money economy and the Average Working Family economy — will continue to diverge. Corporate profits will continue to rise, as will the stock market. But typical wages will go nowhere, joblessness will remain high, the ranks of the long-term unemployed will continue to rise, the housing recovery will remain stalled, and consumer confidence will sag.
Robert Reich: Not only do we need extended unemployment benefits. We need a new WPA, modeled after the WPA of the Great Depression, to put jobless Americans to work. We need a national infrastructure bank to rebuild our crumbling highways and water and sewer systems, thereby putting additional people back to work.
Robert Reich: Inhabitants of the Big Money economy are celebrating Republican wins last week. They figure financial regulations will be rolled back, environmental regulations will be canned, the Bush tax cut will be extended to the top 1 percent, and it will be harder for workers to form unions.
Robert Reich: We’re unlikely to see a repeat of the disastrous Smoot-Hawley tariffs that worsened and lengthened the Great Depression. But you can forget trade-opening agreements. In Toronto last week, the G-20 leaders dropped their 2009 pledge to finish the Doha round this year. In the U.S., agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Columbia are languishing.
Robert Reich: Americans have no choice but to pare back their debt. That’s bad news because consumer spending is 70 percent of the economy. It helps explain why we so few jobs are being created, and why we can’t escape the gravitational pull of the Great Recession without far more government spending.
Real reform has moved from a Medicare-like public option open to all, to a public option open to 6 million without employer coverage (still in the House bill), to a public option open only to those same people in states that opt for it, or about 4 million (the original Harry Reid version of the Senate bill), to no public option but expanded Medicare (the Senate compromise) to no expanded Medicare at all (the deal with Joe “I love all the attention” Lieberman).
The dirty little secret on both sides of the Pacific is that both America and China are capable of producing far more than their own consumers are capable of buying. In the U.S., the root of the problem is a growing share of total income going to the richest Americans, leaving the middle class with relatively less purchasing power unless they go deep into debt.
The core problem we face is not access to capital. The Treasury has already flooded Wall Street and the banking system with money, committing nearly $350 billion; the Federal Reserve Board has exchanged Treasury bills for some $2.2 trillion of troubled assets; other agencies, such as the FDIC, have guaranteed trillions more. But there has [...]
by Robert Reich – Not long ago I was talking to someone who once had been a deficit hawk but the current recession had turned into a full-blooded Keynesian. He wanted a stimulus package in the range of $500 to $700 billion. “Consumers are dead in the water,” he said, fervently, “so government has to [...]
$700,000,000,000… oh what a relief, it is! With apologies to Alka-Seltzer, one chamber crawled out of the sandbox and reached an unpopular but bipartisan decision to save global credit markets last night as banks held a Russian Roulette pistol with six chambers full to our heads and yelled, “Stop me before I shoot.” Crisis over? [...]