Category Archives: Economics

Why We Reform by Paul Krugman

Posted by: ogenec

Op-ed by Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman, New York Times

Paul Krugman, New York Times

NYT~One way or another, the fate of health care reform is going to be decided in the next few days. If House Democratic leaders find 216 votes, reform will almost immediately become the law of the land. If they don’t, reform may well be put off for many years — possibly a decade or more.

So this seems like a good time to revisit the reasons we need this reform, imperfect as it is.

As it happens, Reuters published an investigative report this week that powerfully illustrates the vileness of our current system. The report concerns the insurer Fortis, now part of Assurant Health, which turns out to have had a systematic policy of revoking its clients’ policies when they got sick. In particular, according to the Reuters report, it targeted every single policyholder who contracted H.I.V., looking for any excuse, no matter how flimsy, for cancellation. In the case that brought all this to light, Assurant Health used an obviously misdated handwritten note by a nurse, who wrote “2001” instead of “2002,” to claim that the infection was a pre-existing condition that the client had failed to declare, and revoked his policy.

This was illegal, and the company must have known it: the South Carolina Supreme Court, after upholding a decision granting large damages to the wronged policyholder, concluded that the company had been systematically concealing its actions when withdrawing coverage, not just in this case, but across the board.

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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 02/13/10

white house gov logoWhiteHouse.gov—The President, having just signed the “Pay As You Go” law, discusses the importance of this fundamental rule to getting budget deficits in check. Ensuring that new spending and tax cuts are offset was a important factor in creating the budget surplus of the late 1990’s.
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President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 01/30/10

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WhiteHouse.govReining in Budget Deficits~~The President pledges to rein the deficit, citing three specific steps to this end. He praises the Senate for restoring the pay-as-you-go law, discusses his proposal for a freeze in discretionary spending, and calls for a bipartisan Fiscal Commission to hammer out further concrete deficit reduction proposals.

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The Rachel Maddow Show: White House Explains Spending Freeze

Rachel Maddow ShowRachel Maddow talks with White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein about the breaking news that President Barack Obama will announce a “non-security” spending freeze in his State of the Union address on Wednesday evening.
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44D’s Photo Diaries: America During the Years 1935 thru 1939

Posted by: Betsmeier


Sometimes we all need a reminder…and we think we’ve got it bad?? These photos make our: complaining about no cell service, high gasoline prices, and not enough cable channels…well, it all seems a bit ludicrous… Today I’m reminded to be grateful for what I do have…how about you? 🙂

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Obama outlines new limits on bank risk-taking

posted by GeoT
Obama’s plan is broad, recalls Depression-era curbs


“If these folks want a fight, it’s a fight I’m ready to have.”


Full replay of announcement:
The “Volcker Rule” for Financial Institutions
President Obama calls for new restrictions on the size and scope of financial institutions to rein in excessive risk-taking and protect taxpayers. The proposed legislation is called the “Volcker Rule” in recognition of the efforts of former Federal Reserve Chairman and current President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board Chairman Paul Volcker.
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Fed posts record profit of $46.1B for last year

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve made a record profit of $46.1 billion last year, reflecting money made off its extraordinary efforts to rescue the country from the worst economic and financial crisis since the 1930s, the central bank announced Tuesday.

The windfall gets turned over to the Treasury Department.

It marks the biggest profit on record dating back to 1914 when the Fed was created. The previous record profit – of $34.6 billion – was registered in 2007. In 2008, the Fed reported a profit of $31.7 billion.

The Fed says the bigger profit was primarily due to increased income from the securities it held last year.

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Reality Check: Obama’s Winning Streak On Hill Unprecedented

posted by GeoT
1st of a two part report– Part 1
In his first year in office, President Obama did better even than legendary arm-twister Lyndon Johnson in winning congressional votes on issues where he took a position

NPR, by Don Gonyea
The new Congressional Quarterly study gives Obama a higher mark than any other president since it began scoring presidential success rates in Congress more than five decades ago. And that was in a year where Obama tackled how to deal with Afghanistan, Iraq, an expanding terrorist threat, the economic crisis and battles over health care.

Unprecedented Success Rate

Obama has been no different from his predecessors in that he’s always ready to send a firm message to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue as he “urges members of Congress” to come together and act. All presidents demand specific action by Congress — or at least they ask for it. But when you look at the votes of 2009 in which Obama made his preference clear, his success rate was unprecedented, according to John Cranford of Congressional Quarterly.

“His success was 96.7 percent on all the votes where we said he had a clear position in both the House and the Senate. That’s an extraordinary number,” Cranford says.

The previous high scores were held by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, with 93 percent, and Dwight Eisenhower, who scored 89 percent in 1953. Cranford notes that George W. Bush’s score hit the high 80s in 2001, the year of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. But Obama surpassed them all, Cranford says.

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Listen here: NPR Morning Edition Jan 11, 2010: Obama’s Winning Streak On Hill Unprecedented

Part 2: CQ: 2009 Was The Most Partisan Year Ever

NPR by Andrea Seabrook
A year ago as a new president took office, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed that the United States must be governed from the middle.

“You have to bring people together to reach consensus on solutions that are sustainable and acceptable to the American people,” she said. It had been a rough eight years of partisanship and polarization under George W. Bush. Even Republican House leader John Boehner said if the Democrats wanted bipartisanship, he’d work with them.

It didn’t work out that way

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Listen here: NPR All Things Considered Jan 11, 2010: The Most Partisan Year

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Republicans Delivered the Worst Decade in Modern U.S. History

posted by: LibbyShaw

Republicans ruled for 80% of the last decade, 60% of which Republicans were in total control

At least when W. ran his companies into the ground Daddy’s friends would step up and bail junior out. But Daddy’s buddies are nowhere to be found now that W. and his GOP drove the country straight to hell. Tragically for the American taxpayers, we, our children, our grandchildren and great grandchildren will have to clean up the squalor. It will take generations to undo the GOP’s financial carnage.

A recent article published in the Washington Post reveals that the American worker lost big time during the past decade.

This news should come as no surprise to any hard working middle class American. We have been living the pain for 10 long years.

The past decade was the worst for the U.S. economy in modern times, a sharp reversal from a long period of prosperity that is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation’s growth.

It was, according to a wide range of data, a lost decade for American workers. The decade began in a moment of triumphalism — there was a current of thought among economists in 1999 that recessions were a thing of the past. By the end, there were two, bookends to a debt-driven expansion that was neither robust nor sustainable.

The Washington Post also reveals that there has been zero net job creation since December 1999. Conditions have not been this grim for decades. Essentially, the American worker has not had a raise in a very long time.

Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 — and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s.

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As we well know, our home values have declined as have our retirement and savings accounts.

What happened?

Economists attribute the decline to economic stagnation, an out of control housing bubble, too much risk and too much debt. Money was invested in mini mansions instead of business investments that would have created jobs and economic growth.

The housing bubble both caused, and was enabled by, a boom in indebtedness. Total household debt rose 117 percent from 1999 to its peak in early 2008, according to Federal Reserve data, as Americans borrowed to buy ever more expensive homes and to support consumption more generally.

An experiment called an unbridled free market economy ended very badly for we the people.

The first decade of the new century was an experiment in what happens when an economy comes to rely heavily on borrowed money.

A big part of what happened this decade was that people engaged in excessively risky behavior without realizing the risks associated,” said Karen Dynan, co-director of economic studies at the Brookings Institution. “It’s true not just among consumers but among regulators, financial institutions, lenders, everyone.”

The experiment has ended badly. While the stock market bubble that popped in 2000 caused only a mild recession, the housing and credit bubble has had a much greater punch — driving the unemployment rate to a high, so far, of 10.2 percent, compared with a peak of 6.3 percent following the last such downturn.

In short, the big banks, enabled by Republican free market ideology, gambled with our money and they lost it. And they lost it big time. As we know we the taxpayer had to step up and bail out the banks so there would not be a complete and thoroughly devastating global economic melt down.

The G.W. Bush era was one in which the GOP rewarded every one of its fat cat sugar daddies, including Halliburton with its no bid contracts for a ginned up war called Iraq.

We the people are dearly paying the price for the Bush era’s unforgivable mistakes.

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I am with Dylan Ratigan on this one. The banks should pay the taxpayers back with interest. Why on earth did Hank Paulson give away our money with no strings attached? What was he thinking?

So next time we hear about the virtues of an unbridled free market economy we need to say no way in hell. Any politician who embraces this voodoo notion of economic devastation should be run out of office on a rail for they are unfit to serve the people.

Speaking of unfitness to serve, why is that Republicans have to blame their short comings on others? Why can’t Republicans ever step up and take responsibility for their mistakes?

Republicans are obviously inept at running the economy and they are also incompetent at keeping our nation safe whether from terrorist attacks or national disasters like Hurricane Katrina. It seems that the only thing Republicans are good at is playing the blame game.

A coordinated, successful attack, with sufficient warning, carried out by 19 terrorists, killing 2,973 people, on the 234th day of an administration… that’s completely and totally and absolutely and so gosh-durn’t the fault of the previous President… who happened to be a Democrat.

HOWEVER, an unsuccessful attack, attempted by 1 terrorist, killing absolutely no one on the 339th day of an administration… that’s completely and totally and absolutely and so gosh-durn’t the fault of the current President… who happens to be a Democrat.

SIMILARLY, a complete and total meltdown of the financial system, including a stock market collapse and levels of bankruptcy/foreclosure not seen since the Great Depression on, or around, the 2415th day of an administration… that’s completely and totally and absolutely and so gosh-durn’t the fault of the previous President (and Congress)… who created Acorn, and just happened to be Democrats.

BUT, 10% unemployment and lackluster job growth on the 215th day of an administration… that’s completely and totally and absolutely and so gosh-durn’t the fault of the current President (and Congress)… who want to institute socialism (in the form of Acorn) and happen to be Democrats.

NOW, making a statement from your “brush farm” 144 hours after a dude with bad facial hair is prevented from blowing up an airplane… that’s fighting some serious war on the baddies.

AND YET, making a statement from the beach 72 hours after a dude with bad genital burns is prevented from blowing up an airplane… that’s “pretending the war on terror doesn’t exist“.

If folks really have a desire to destroy what is left of their financial security, go ahead and continue to vote for Republicans. Hopefully most of us won’t have this death wish in November.

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President Obama’s Saturday Address + Ben Nelson “Yes Man”

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WhiteHouse.govThe Patient’s Bill of Rights and Health Reform

December 19, 2009

The President looks back to the bipartisan Patient’s Bill of Rights, a bill that was defeated in Congress at the hands of special interests and their supporters, and notes that health insurance reform covers the same ground and much more in terms of giving the consumers the upper hand over their insurance companies. He calls on the Senate to allow an up-or-down vote, and for those opposing reform to stop using parliamentary maneuvers to drag it out.
Read the Transcript

December 19, 2009.

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Related Story: AP sources: Sen. Nelson to support health bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic officials say Sen. Ben Nelson intends to support health care legislation backed by President Barack Obama, giving the measure a 60th and decisive vote.

These officials say the Nebraska Democrat will make an announcement later Saturday. Marathon negotiations with the White House and Senate Democratic leaders produced fresh concessions that will mean additional abortion restrictions in the legislation.

source:

Budget office: Democrats’ bill covers 94 percent of population

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional budget scorekeepers say the latest Democratic health care bill would cover 94 percent of eligible Americans while reducing the federal deficit.

The Congressional Budget Office said Saturday the changes announced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would cut the deficit by an additional $2 billion, bringing the 10-year total reduction to $132 billion.

The nearly $900 billion bill would be paid for by $483 billion in cuts to Medicare and other federal health programs, as well as tax increases.

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