On Saving our Mini-Recovery

Economists call it “noise” — something like intermittent static on your TV screen I suppose. The data is confusing, but many now say our economy is in weak recovery. If that’s true, one thing could sabotage it — irresponsible, deluded lawmakers in Washington obsessed with strangling the federal government.

The stats are a mixed bag:

  • Housing is up
  • GDP is down
  • More than 5 million new jobs since 2009, but 3.2 million lost
  • Currently there are about 10 unemployed workers for every three available positions
  • Household debt falling
  • Disposable personal income rising

Whatever the good news, if any, Congress, especially the GOP-run House, could scuttle the economy again with another threat to slash government jobs and, more importantly, millions of private sector jobs that are dependent on federal contracts. If nothing is done, this all starts early next month.

(An irony of the Republican agenda is that their longtime determination to privatize government services means that cutbacks risk the economic health of private contractors who contribute to their campaign funds. It’s not just federal bureaucrats on the firing line!)

Here’s how the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office describes the situation:

“Economic growth will remain slow this year as gradual improvement in many of the forces that drive the economy is offset by the effects of budgetary changes that are scheduled to occur under current law.”

Translation: Cutting the federal budget right now endangers economic growth.

More and better jobs, home values, access to loans, personal income — all are at the mercy of a Congress that seems oblivious to its own impact.

Here’s hoping President Obama wins the day in this next round of negotiations with clueless lawmakers, to put economic recovery above deficit reduction for now.

26 thoughts on “On Saving our Mini-Recovery”

  1. My take: The economy is doing remarkably well. So long as some stupid politico on either side doesn’t do something to prove he or she is right, we will muddle through until this sequester thing is sorted out.

  2. in re last thread. as a moo-jician I can tell you without reservation that sometimes the music does come to a screeching halt.


  3. One last (hopefully) housekeeping note: We now require valid email addresses to log in and comment. This was a step I’ve long tried to avoid but now it is necessary to keep unfriendlies out. Be assured I will never EVER share your addresses with 3d parties, but only use them to advise you of site-related updates and tech issues.

    This won’t be an issue for those who have supplied valid emails with your current login. In other words, if you are able to log in and comment don’t worry about it.

  4. Was reading the other day that the reason for the dip in gdp last quarter was because the DOD cut back orders in anticipation of the sequester,


  5. Yep, jack, I’ve seen estimates that some 3 million DOD private sector jobs could be abolished if House Republicans let the sequester happen. Ha, hoisted by their own petard — it was their idea to privatize those jobs, and that’s why they’ll have to back down. Damn brilliant of the Dems to let them create this situation.

  6. Just a test message. All seems fine. As for the economy, I’ve been a “taker” for a year now, and I have to confess I’m enjoying it. The bad news is that my severance package was generous enough that I now have to raid the 401k to settle up with IRS. Just doing my part to decrease the deficit.

  7. Hello lovely people! I have nothing intelligent to say about the stupidity of sequestration. Tonight the wind is howling here in VA, and I am wondering about our friends in the blizzard zone, hoping they still have power and only get the good things that come with a big winter storm.

  8. I step away from the website for a couple of weeks…then I get an email telling me the website is broken.

    I’m glad to see that it is up and running again.

  9. “Winter is begun here, now, I suppose. It blew part of the hair off the dog yesterday & got the rest this morning.”—Mark Twain

    – letter to Chatto and Windus, October 21, 1892. Published in The Fence Painter, Winter, 2004.

  10. Craig, in Oz we have a real concern about the Chinese and Japanese dispute over the Diaoyu Islands or Senkaku, depending on your preference. Just wondering what your take is on this affair in Washington. Does anyone really care in your city? I’m not getting any sense of concern here.

    The real question here is: What if Japan calls on the US to honour its alliance agreement, what then?

  11. Bill Woerlee – I don’t know about the politicians now. But I know for several years now this fight has been on the minds of East-West relations political scientists. They are convinced that the US would get involved. But with talk going around that the US is looking toward hitting Iran this spring. I don’t see it happening.

  12. Bill, I’ve long heard rumblings in this town about war against China, well before 9/11 distracted us to the ME. I am worried that it’s coming back. Our “military industrial complex” is not just a fanciful phrase. It exists, and it depends on conflict. And it will seize upon any excuse to start wars. Thanks for flagging this dispute between Japan and China, it’s just the sort of thing that could get out of hand if reasonable people aren’t paying attention. I’m going to study this one, didn’t even know about it. That’s why we need an ambassador from OZ. Meanwhile, pay close attention to what your government is up to. I continue to hear chatter that it is secretly in cahoots with the US to threaten China.

  13. jaslf, I hear what you say but we are in different times. Both Chinese and Japanese leaders are new and trying to establish their governments which also means they are weak. So they cannot do the things that it takes to diffuse the situation. At the moment they are waiting for the other guy to blink.

    My question was quite simple – if either side stuffs it up (and there is a high likelihood of that), will the US join the party at the invitation of the Japanese and so set up a stand off between two very well armed nuke nations?

    I’ll add a further one – if the answer is yes, then what is Plan B. (Plan A under this situation is to nuke the shit out of each other because of some pissant little dots in the ocean.)

  14. Craig, thanks for that answer mate. While it is essential for gun reform and economic planning to go ahead, this is the one issue that will derail all of this for good.

  15. Bill, I can tell ya this, HRC is really pissed at China — might be the biggest reason she’d run even if she doesn’t say so. She wants to kick their butts, and Russia too. Maybe she’s right. Whole thing scares me tho.

  16. Bill Woerlee – Nuking is never in the equation. Too many problems with it. It would be a naval assault. The US would probably get involved, since it has bases in Japan, Okinawa, and South Korea.

  17. I can’t stop thinking about a strange experience I had years ago, before 9/11, when I was invited to dinner by a wealthy publisher who also included a former CIA director, the CEO of Lockheed Martin and a couple other such types. The topic du jour was war against China, which they all eagerly wanted. The Lockheed dude prattled on at great length about how they were developing jets that could destroy Chinese targets from 100 miles out. I remember their stunned faces when I asked how they would justify this to a poor black woman in Alabama being asked to sacrifice her son for such a thing. Ha, I wasn’t asked back to any more of their dinners. But I fear they’re still having them, and plotting war against China, as we speak.

  18. Craig – People like those look at our military like they are plastic green army men. These army men cannot possibly matter because they are made out of plastic. Hell, they should be thanking them for letting them come out of the toy bin. How dare people not want to join in worshipping them for their benevolence in bringing them out to play.

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