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Hullabaloo


Saturday, December 22, 2012

 
What we have to look forward to

by digby

This just gets better and better:
President Obama’s concessions to Republicans on taxes and Social Security have grabbed the headlines, but there’s another big area where the White House has shifted considerably in the GOP’s direction: direct stimulus to revive the short-term economy.

In his original offer, Obama asked for $425 billion in stimulus through jobs measures and tax extenders, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, including $50 billion in infrastructure spending and other stimulus measures; mass mortgage refinancing to boost the housing market; $30 billion in unemployment extension; a $115 billion extension of the payroll tax holiday; and the extension of a host of business tax breaks known as extenders.

The stimulus measures are intended to counteract the impact of a fiscal cliff that would put major austerity into effect immediately. But they’re also meant to counter the fiscal tightening in a fiscal cliff deal, which both Democrats and Republicans have agreed should promote major austerity in the longer term through deficit reduction. 
Republicans, however, have argued that more explicit stimulus right now isn’t the answer: House Speaker John Boehner included no explicit stimulus measures in his original offer and has only proposed to extend a handful of business tax breaks since then. It’s clearly been a point of contention in the negotiations as Obama’s stimulus proposal has progressively shrunk over time: In his third offer, reported Monday, Obama dropped his ask from $425 billion to $175 billion in stimulus, as my colleague Dylan’s chart shows below, keeping the federal extension of unemployment insurance, infrastructure spending and some business tax breaks, but abandoning the extension of the payroll tax holiday, among other major measures.
For a White House which everyone says has all the leverage, they sure are willing to compromise their allegedly most cherished priorities. From reporting and public quotes from various Democratic leaders, the Democrats signed on to that offer.  (Whether they will still agree to it after they were rebuffed is another story.)

Meanwhile, John Boehner offered up one thing: allowing the taxes on those making a million dollars a year to go back up to the levels they were a decade ago. Of course he sweetened it with more cuts to food stamps and other vital programs. And he couldn't even sell that. So why do so many people say that the Democrats aren't negotiating with themselves? Who are they negotiating with?

Here's just a little reminder of where these austerity measures that the Washington Post claims have been embraced by both parties are going to lead us:
Across Europe, holiday "shoppers" this season are doing more browsing than buying.

Retailers remain hopeful for a last-minute burst of Christmas consumerism, and some governments are encouraging it by allowing stores to open on Sunday. But with economies across the region slowing and unemployment soaring, analysts say holiday spending in Europe is bound to disappoint for the fourth year in a row.

In Rome, some shopkeepers say holiday sales are down 20 percent from last year. In Paris, refurbished second-hand toys are attracting buyers. And in Spain, which has Europe's highest unemployment rate, some families are contemplating whether to give gifts at all.
[...]
Austerity measures implemented to combat the continent's debt crisis have hit Europe's economies hard: Nine countries in the 27-member European Union are in recession and unemployment across the region is 10.7 percent.

Retail sales across Europe have been on a steady decline since August and have yet to match levels last seen since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. In October, the latest month for which official figures are available, retail sales in the European Union fell 1.1 percent from the previous month and 2.4 percent from the previous year, according to Eurostat. In Germany, Europe's biggest economy, retail sales fell 3.8 percent in October from the previous year.

Apparently our elites think we need a nice big dose of that austerity too. I guess we feel left out of the misery what with only having 7.6% unemployment and anemic growth. We need to go all in. Why, I do not know, but that's the plan.

Update: Hoooboy. Read Krugman and Baker.

I'm going to shut down my brain for the rest of the day and go have some Christmas cheer. I suggest that everyone else do the same. It's the only sane thing to do right now.







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