Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Obama Administration economics

The man fondly known to liberal bloggers as the Shrill One weighs in one the puzzling question of why Obama keeps talking up Herbert Hoover economics, whose value even to the plutocrats is questionable (Paul Krugman, The Obama-Keynes Mystery 07/06/2011):

... since Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying.

The question then is why. As I’ve tried to show many times, the facts overwhelmingly refute the anti-Keynes talking points. Neither the invisible bond vigilantes nor the confidence fairy have made an appearance. So why is Obama talking up those talking points?

OK, here’s an unprofessional speculation: maybe it’s personal. Maybe the president just doesn’t like the kind of people who tell him counterintuitive things, who say that the government is not like a family, that it’s not right for the government to tighten its belt when Americans are tightening theirs, that unemployment is not caused by lack of the right skills. Certainly just about all the people who might have tried to make that argument have left the administration or are leaving soon.

And what’s left, I’m afraid, are the Very Serious People. It looks as if those are the people the president feels comfortable with. And that, of course, is a tragedy.
Krugman has actually met with the President on economic issues. And he was unable to persuade Obama of the virtues of well-established economics.

Jamie Galbraith stated the problem a bit more theatrically a couple of months ago (Galbraith on the Irrationality of Regressive Budget Cuts New Deal 2.0 05/19/2011):

The political struggle is over what to cut and what to save, over how to bargain, and not over what to do.

In economic policy, magicians and necromancers have taken charge, brewing a toxic vat of program cuts and deregulation, from which they promise that, somehow, jobs will emerge. Serious people cite serious people on the subject of what serious people permit themselves to think. Meanwhile, the crisis in the country deepens, and hopes for a coherent strategic response to it recede. ...

We are witnessing one of the greatest waves of mass hysteria of all time, the fruits of one of history’s most intense and successful propaganda campaigns.

As a professional economist and one with a background in political work – I was here on Capitol Hill for many years, worked for the Congress – I am impressed. I am even in awe. Practically every avenue of debate has been closed off. And not by argument. Not even, as was the case thirty years ago when a few of us tried to stand in the way of the juggernaut of the Reagan economic policies, not even by the convinced philosophical positions of effective public intellectuals. But rather by endless repetition of the same slogans, repeated and barely detectable changes in the foundation of the argument, and silence in the face of criticism. That there are many economists, experienced people, impeccable credentials, who don’t buy the line, that history and comparative experience contradict it, is a secret to most people. We are hidden in this discussion behind a wall of invisibility.
Yes, the economic discussion is that far off the tracks in the US.

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