Hypocrisy That Just Pisses You Off

The following video segment involves Chris Hayes revealing a “glaring bit of hypocrisy” on the part of Paul Ryan related to the issue of stimulus spending and the economy. Needless to say, Ryan had a different opinion of the effectiveness of stimulus spending under George Bush than he did under Barack Obama.

You have to see this segment in order to believe it. The pro-stimulus Paul Ryan of 2002 sounds like the pro-stimulus Barack Obama of 2009. What a pile of fetid feces has the GOP become:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

By the way, in the discussion that follows the above clip, Michael Grunwald, author of The New New Deal, which “reveals the vivid story behind President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill,” said this about the effectiveness of that bill:

People forget that in the fourth quarter of 2008, GDP fell at a 9% annual rate. That’s a depression. At that rate we would have lost an entire Canadian economy in 2009. In January of 2009 we lost 800,000 jobs. Then we pass the stimulus. The next quarter had the biggest improvement in jobs in 30 years.

Case closed.

“With How Little Wisdom The World Is Governed”

Fourteen months ago I wrote the following, in a piece titled, “While We Were Away, Republicans Were Trying to Kill The Economy:

Since the fall of 2008, there has emerged two diametrically opposed approaches to solving our (and the world’s) economic predicament:

(1) Stimulate the economy through government (deficit) spending until consumer demand picks up sufficiently to sustain a strong recovery

(2) Drastically cut government spending because deficits are a drag on the economy

Democrats, of course, have tried to pursue (against strong Republican opposition) the former and Republicans, including now the party’s candidate for president, have aggressively pursued the latter.

Thankfully, early in 2009, the Democrats prevailed with a mild (relatively mild, it turned out) stimulus program that has led to Ben Bernanke talking up today (cautiously, modestly) the Fed’s latest growth forecast for 2012 (now up to a range of 2.4 to 2.9%) and projected unemployment down to 7.8-8% at the end of the year. Not fabulous, but better than the 700,000+ jobs we were losing when Obama took office. And the current 25 straight months of private-sector job growth ain’t nuttin’.

The Democrats success with the stimulus (oh, how that galls conservatives when they hear those words, but they must watch as the American recovery continues) can be compared to what has happened in Europe, which pursued a Republicanesque austerity philosophy.

From Henry Blodget of the Business Insider:

The “austerity” idea, you’ll remember, was that the continents’ huge debt and deficit problem had ushered in a “crisis of confidence” and that, once business-people saw that governments were serious about debt reduction, they’d get confident and start spending again.

That hasn’t worked.

Instead, spending cuts have led to cuts in GDP which has led to greater deficits and the need for more spending cuts. And so on.

Paul Krugman chimes in about the “big fat failure” of the European austerity policy:

It’s important to understand that what we’re seeing isn’t a failure of orthodox economics. Standard economics in this case — that is, economics based on what the profession has learned these past three generations, and for that matter on most textbooks — was the Keynesian position. The austerity thing was just invented out of thin air and a few dubious historical examples to serve the prejudices of the elite.

And now the results are in: Keynesians have been completely right, Austerians utterly wrong — at vast human cost.

But no one I know of thinks that these “results” will convince Republicans here in America to suddenly rush to the confessional and admit there are flaws in their cut-spending-balance-the-budget-deregulate prescription for short-term salvation. Not gonna happen, as Krugman points out:

Nobody ever admits that they were wrong, and Austerian ideas clearly have an emotional and political appeal that is resilient to any and all evidence.

Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

[See here for the origin of that wonderful admonition.]

Government Matters And Don’t Forget It

The recent report that the economy grew at an annualized rate last quarter of 2.8%—a growth rate we have not seen since early in 2010—brought some election-year relief to Democrats defending their policies—particularly the silver lining of past stimulus efforts—and caused Republicans to look for, as always, the dark cloud.

Most talking-head defenders of the GOP wanted everyone to know that the actual GDP growth rate for all of 2011 was 1.7% (I heard George Will make that point just this morning on ABC’s This Week). It is vital to Repubicans’ reelection efforts to not let folks think things are on the mend.

Now, before we move on and discuss a real problem with the economic growth rate, we need to review what has happened since the assault of the Great Recession. Here is an excerpt from a piece on Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog written by Brad Plumer discussing the revised numbers by the Bureau of Economic Analysis vis-à-vis the depths of the Great Recession:

As Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi told me this morning, the revisions suggest that the recession following the financial crisis was much, much more severe than we’d thought—the economy actually shrank at a 8.9 percent annual rate the fourth quarter of 2008 and 6.7 percent in the first quarter of 2009 (earlier estimates had shown a smaller, 5.9 percent annualized drop across the two quarters).

Then, Congress passed the stimulus bill, the fall in growth dwindled to 0.7 percent in the second quarter, and, by the third quarter of 2009, we had 1.7 percent growth. “We went from negative to positive at precisely the time that the stimulus was providing maximum benefit in terms of tax cuts and spending increases,” Zandi says. “The numbers actually reinforce the importance of the stimulus in jump-starting a recovery.” What the stimulus didn’t do, however, was raise employment to the levels that the White House had predicted — partly because the economy was in worse shape than anyone, even the official data-crunchers, knew.

I will add to all that the fact that the 2010 GDP growth rate was 3.1%, which reflected the full effects of the original stimulus. This stuff is important to remember. There is a lot of history-distorting and history-ignoring going on in the GOP primary and beyond, but the fact is that in down times, particularly in really down times like we have had, government spending is a crucial part of the recovery process.  We have seen that in terms of the various stimulus measures that have been passed and, negatively, we can see that in the latest numbers out for economic growth last quarter.

Again, from Wonkblog:

Government spending cuts are biting into economic growth. Government spending contracted a whopping 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 — led by big cutbacks in defense spending. Had it not been for these cutbacks, the data suggest, growth in the last quarter would have been 3.7 percent. That’s the difference between “okay” growth and “good” catch-up growth that would make a meaningful dent in the jobless rate. It’s also a reminder that Congress can very much affect what happens in 2012 — especially since lawmakers still haven’t extended the payroll tax holiday or expanded unemployment insurance for the full year.

When this point was made this morning on This Week, I thought the heads of extremist George Will and vulgar extremist Laura Ingraham* were going to make news by detonating before our eyes. The lesson here is that government austerity—the core of the Republican economic plan—is a drag on economic growth, particularly during times like these.

And we don’t know yet how hard Democrats will have to fight congressional Republicans to get the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits extensions (they expire on February 29 and even though Mitch McConnell said on Sunday the thing will get done, he does not control the House), but that Democrats do have to fight for such basics should tell us all we need to know about what has happened to the Republican Party.

One more word about the stimulative effects of government spending: With all the talk coming from the right-wing about Obama being the food stamp president, here is a reminder of how important that program is not only to the individual or family receiving the help (about half are kids and almost a third have earned income), but to the economy as a whole:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture calculates that for every $5 of food-stamp spending, there is $9.20 of total economic activity, as grocers and farmers pay their employees and suppliers, who in turn shop and pay their bills.

While other stimulus money has been slow to circulate, the food-stamp boost [$19.9 billion] is almost immediate, with 80% of the benefits being redeemed within two weeks of receipt and 97% within a month, the USDA says.


* There is never a person as rabidly far left as Ingraham is far right on this program. Never.

Socrates They Are Not

Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

—President Obama during 2008 campaign


Although it will be lost on the general public, and on many of those in the general public who will vote next year, it is important nonetheless to understand the reality behind the Democrat’s original stimulus package in early 2009, which Republicans never tire of telling us—falsely—was a failure. 

It is clear that whoever the Republican nominee will be, he—yes, he—will say loudly and often that Mr. Obama “made the economy worse” or “spent a trillion dollars on a stimulus that failed.”

We have discussed this several times over the last year or so: the $800 billion stimulus package was too small to do the job the way it was designed because the way it was designed was based on incomplete data.  Ezra Klein put it succinctly:

The Bureau of Economic Analysis, the agency charged with measuring the size and growth of the U.S. economy, initially projected that the economy shrank at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the last quarter of 2008. Months later, the bureau almost doubled that estimate, saying the number was 6.2 percent. Then it was revised to 6.3 percent. But it wasn’t until this year that the actual number was revealed: 8.9 percent. That makes it one of the worst quarters in American history.

This reality is stunningly important in trying to understand the dynamics behind the early days of the Obama Administration as it grappled with what to do to stop the bleeding of millions of jobs. Even though the last quarter of 2008 was one of the worst quarters in history, the folks advising Mr. Obama on what to do about the collapsing economy didn’t know just how bad it was.

Now, it may be true, as some on the left argue, that the Obama Administration’s efforts were based on too-rosy scenarios and wishful thinking. But imagine if the Democrats had proposed a trillion-plus package.  As it was, Mr. Obama was attacked ruthlessly by Republicans, even before it became clear that the stimulus was too small to do the job the Administration said it would do.

If the stimulus package had been commensurate with the job that needed to be done, not only would Republicans have attacked it even more rabidly, some Democrats would have fallen away and not supported it.  It’s likely that the Administration got all it could get at the time, and unfortunately all it could get wasn’t enough.

But what’s not true, and never will be true no matter how many times you hear it from the lips of Republicans, is that the stimulus did nothing or made things worse. Klein quotes Doug Holtz-Eakin, John McCain’s “top economic adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign” and “no fan of the stimulus”:

The argument that the stimulus had zero impact and we shouldn’t have done it is intellectually dishonest or wrong. If you throw a trillion dollars at the economy, it has an impact. I would have preferred to do it differently, but they needed to do something.

No doubt that phrase “needed to do something” is pregnant with all kinds of “could haves” and “should haves,” now that we can better see how big the initial problem was.  There are plenty of Monday-morning economists who have plenty of ideas about what could have and should have been done. (There were, to be fair, folks like Paul Krugman who did seem to understand how bad things were at the time, but they were in a minority.)   

But the truth is, as far as the politics of 2012 are concerned, that most voters who are not committed to one party or the other don’t really care about an academic debate over the depth of the economic crisis or the size of the stimulus presented to help alleviate that crisis.  They see persistent unemployment, growing economic disparity, and millions of vacant homes and millions more to come through foreclosure.

And Mr. Obama sits at the top of what voters see. That’s what makes it so easy for Republicans—who have done absolutely nothing to fix the mess their policies largely helped to create—to demagogue the stimulus issue and blame the President for the slow recovery and for racking up unnecessary debt.  It’s not fair, of course, but it’s reality.

The President’s reelection is in serious doubt.  Most of the uncommitted voting public will not pay any attention to a rational discussion of how we got here and what the alternatives were based on what was known at the time.

They will listen to, and then ignore, his perfectly reasonable argument that things would have been much worse if it weren’t for his leadership on the economy.

They will hear, but not really absorb, his arguments about a “do nothing” Congress and Republican’s gridlock-creating obstinacy.

They will not, like pupils of Socrates, reason their way into voting for him like that.

Fortunately for Mr. Obama , he will be facing a radical Republican, no matter who survives the often ridiculous GOP primary process. With Mitt Romney fully embracing the Ryan plan to kill Medicare, with Newt Gingrich fashioning himself as the savior of Western civilization by putting kids to work as janitors, the President will have plenty of opportunities next year to force the public to think about what putting the Tea Party in charge will mean.

And if that doesn’t take their minds off the too-slow recovery, nothing will.

The Sadistic Spiral

The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something, which everybody knows is not factual. It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do.  And the problem is everything is put in this tit-for-tat, equal battle and America is losing any sense of what’s real, of who’s accountable, of who is not accountable, of who’s real, who isn’t, of who’s serious, who isn’t.

—John Kerry, on Morning Joe, August 5, 2011

Some of us have been arguing for some time now that concern over the long-term national debt, while appropriate, is out of sequence.  First things must come first.

Completely detached from immediate economic reality, the Johnny One-Note Tea Party in Congress has crippled government with a singular concentration on reducing government spending while ignoring our scrawny economy, which even with today’s better-than-expected jobs report, is perilously underperforming.

The priority right now should be fueling the economy with more not less government spending.  While in this environment that may sound crazy, it’s time for leadership—and it appears it will all have to come from Democrats—to make the case.

It is a simple matter of sputtering demand:

♦ Consumers are holding back their spending (demand) either out of fear of losing their jobs and/or in order to pay down debt.

♦ And without the prospect of increased demand, businesses are reluctant to put to work the some $2 trillion in cash they have stored away, cash that in normal times would be put into additional hiring and increases in wages, which would itself bring additional demand.

So, consumers are holding back until business picks up and business is holding back until consumer demand picks up. This sadistic spiral will more or less continue in the short-term unless government bridges the demand gap up until the economy is fully on the road to recovery. 

And as many learned people have pointed out, getting this feeble economy going again is the best available way we have to make an impact on the long-term deficit.

The problem is that the right-wing has demonized the last effort to stimulate the economy, which turned out to be too small. The recession was much worse than anyone knew at the time, as last week’s yearly revision of economic data by the Commerce Department made clear:

WASHINGTON — The 2007-2009 recession, already in the record books as the worst in the 66 years since the end of World War II, was even worse than previously thought.

From the start of the recession at the end of 2007 to the end in June of 2009, the U.S. economy shrank 5.1 percent. That is 1 percentage point worse than the previous estimate that the recession reduced total output during that period by 4.1 percent.

And here was the reason for the initial underestimate:

The government attributed the bigger declines in output in part to weaker consumer spending and business investment than previously estimated.

Sound familiar?

The report also revised the growth rates for 2010:

The revisions showed that growth in 2010 was a bit stronger than previously estimated. They put growth for all of 2010 at 3 percent, up from a previous estimate that the economy grew 2.9 percent last year.

What made the difference in 2010?  How about the effects of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the stimulus package passed in February of 2009?

The truth, as should be clear to all clear-thinkers, is that the 2009 stimulus was effective in terms of stopping the job bleeding, but not big enough to push the economy beyond 3 percent growth, which would start to bring the unemployment numbers down.  And as the stimulus has wound down, so has economic growth, which today is less than half of what it was last year.

Mr. Obama needs to step up and clearly and forcefully explain to the American people just what happened (“I underestimated the depths of the problem”) and what needs to be done (“A concentrated effort to create jobs”).  He has lately been caught up in the debt hysteria to the detriment of economic growth and he needs to dramatically change the national conversation. 

And if the Republicans in Congress won’t go along with him, he needs to shout from every podium in the country that they are the problem, the obstacle to economic growth and job creation.

This morning on Morning Joe, Senator John Kerry firmly insisted that “this is a moment for leadership.” He said things that needed to be said and said them exactly how they should be said, including a shot at a complicit news media, that presents what’s going on as an “equal battle” of ideas. I urge everyone to listen to the following segment, which also includes the incomparable Ezra Klein:

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Tea Party Tongues

The jobs numbers are out for June and it is becoming clear that the Tea Party has paralyzed not only the government, but it has gone a long way toward freezing in place a weak recovery.

Oh, I know the right-wing is proud of its achievements.  After all, they have managed to bring Democrats to the budget-cutting table; they have all politicians now talking in Tea Party tongues; they have managed to change the debate from what to do about the struggling economy and jobs to how much to cut entitlement programs and other staples in the Democratic Party and American diet, like, say, education.

They have done a lot those teapartiers. But they certainly can be most proud of contributing significantly to stagnating economic growth and keeping unemployment high—both of which just happen to be politically deadly for Barack Obama in 2012—and they show little sign of relenting.

Their continued opposition to government stimulus—in any form—and their continued insistence that we can cut our way to prosperity, including cutting taxes even further than the government-starving ratios in place now, is the most significant contributing factor in our inability to escape the black hole of the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate has now crept up to 9.2% and job growth has been essentially flat the last two months.  But the worst of the news is summarized in this sentence from CNN:

So far, the nation has only gained back about a fifth of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the recession.

And while Tea Party Republicans in Congress have spent a good deal of time fretting over Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio and other non-jobs concerns, they have managed to do what many of them said they wanted to do when they ran for office. From Bloomberg:

Employment in government continued to trend down over the month (-39,000). Federal employment declined by 14,000 in June. Employment in both state government and local government continued to trend down over the month and has been falling since the second half of 2008.

Yep, they can be proud of this accomplishment, as thousands upon thousands of teachers and other “government” workers join the millions of other victims of the kind of Republican economics that ruled the day not so long ago and a kind of economics that will—if Mr. Obama is defeated in 2012 because of the bad jobs numbers this year—rule our tomorrow.

“The Original Welfare State” Versus America

About three years ago I was in Boston and I chatted with a couple of German salesmen who were staying at our hotel.  They were in the city on behalf of a German manufacturer of lab equipment, and they had an appointment at Harvard.

I was interested in their standard of living and the effects of reunification and they explained to be the differences between the former West German states and those in the East, and how those in the East were not as “productive” as elsewhere and it would take much time to integrate them into their way of life.

I thought about those two gentlemen yesterday, when on The Dylan Ratigan Show I saw some amazing graphics that compared the relative economies and economic policies of Germany and the United States.  It turns out that David Leonhardt, economics columnist for The New York Times, had previously covered this ground.  He pointed out that both liberals and conservatives have used Germany as an example to support a) stimulus and b) austerity as a way out of our economic mess.  But, he said:

the full story is more interesting than any caricature. In the last decade, Germany has succeeded in some important ways that the United States has not. The lessons aren’t simply liberal or conservative. They are both…

The brief story is that, despite its reputation for austerity, Germany has been far more willing than the United States to use the power of government to help its economy. Yet it has also been more ruthless about cutting wasteful parts of government.

The German economy has outperformed ours since the middle of the last decade, Leonhardt says, and in the process, “most Germans have fared much better than most Americans, because the bounty of their growth has not been concentrated among a small slice of the affluent.” Here are a couple of the charts used on The Dylan Ratigan Show:

And here’s the unemployment rate comparison:

Leonhardt noted that the Germans have made cuts to unemployment benefits and have reduced early-retirement incentives, as well as attempted to “move the long-term unemployed into the labor force.” These are the things that you hear conservatives in the media talk about, as they argue for drastic budget cuts here at home. But the truth is that in terms of safety-net benefits here in the United States, the German system is still relatively generous.

The real point, and the real difference between the United States and Germany, though, is this:

But the German story is not merely about making government more efficient. It’s also about understanding the unique role that government must play in a market economy.

That role starts with serious regulation. American regulators stood idle as the housing bubble inflated. German banks often required a down payment of 40 percent.

Unlike what happened here, German laws and regulators have also prevented the decimation of their labor unions. The clout of German unions, at individual companies and in the political system, is one reason the middle class there has fared decently in recent decades. In fact, middle-class pay has risen at roughly the same rate as top incomes.

Labor unions.  Dirty words here in the United States, thanks to Republican meme-making and legislation, but not in Germany. From Wikipedia:

German industrial relations are characterized by a high degree of employee participation up to co-determination in companies’ boards (“Aufsichtsrat”), where trade unionists and works councils elected by employees have full voting rights. Local trade union representatives are democratically elected by union members and formally largely autonomous. Central boards of directors (“Vorstand”) are elected by delegates.

Trade unions in Germany define themselves as being more than a “collective bargaining machine,” but as important political player for social, economical and also environmental subjects, especially also for labor market policy and professional education.


And we’ve all witnessed the war on collective bargaining waged by Republican governors and legislators here in the U.S., but in Germany most workers are covered by a collective bargaining agreement:

The relative friendliness of the German government to labor unions and collective bargaining is perhaps the best reason to explain the following eye-popping income-disparity graphic from Ratigan’s show:

That graphic is difficult to fathom, and should be even more difficult to accept. The top 1% of wage earners here in America are cleaning up, while in Germany, the wealthy, while still doing well, are earning income at the same rate as 40 years ago.  Stunning.

Finally, Leonhardt says, there is the issue of taxes:

Germany does not have a smaller budget deficit because it spends less. Germany, you’ll recall, is the original welfare state. It has a smaller deficit because it is more willing to match the benefits it wants with the needed taxes. The current deficit-reduction plan includes about 60 percent spending cuts and 40 percent tax increases…

Here’s the chart: 

As Leonhardt says, no one is advocating “that the United States should want to become Germany.”  We are richer and still attract immigrants by, unfortunately, the truckload. But in our weakened condition we should be willing to deal with our weaknesses.  But we are not, at least in terms of the political parties cooperating with one another to address them.


Some Democrats say Social Security and Medicare must remain unchanged. Most Republicans refuse to consider returning tax rates even to their 1990s levels. Republican leaders also want to make deep cuts in the sort of antipoverty programs that have helped Germany withstand the recession even in the absence of big new stimulus legislation.

I resist the implicit “both sides are equally too blame” in that statement.  I don’t know many Democrats, if any, who say “Social Security and Medicare must remain unchanged.”  But there is a point to be made that Democrats must be willing to explain how those programs can be adjusted to keep them solvent in the future.

In the mean time, Republicans continue to insist that our problems should be solved on the backs of the poor, the disabled, and the soon-to-be elderly, as well as on the backs of our education-challenged children.  And they insist on these things while advocating even more tax relief for the wealthy.

Why, just the other day, one of their most viable, “adult” presidential candidates, Tim Pawlenty, came out with a budget proposal that would lower tax rates for both the wealthy and corporations to cartoonish levels.

And it would be as funny as a cartoon, if our economic troubles were merely part of a Looney Tunes script. But they are not, and the Germans seem to understand that.

Crass Ass Conservatism: The Real Republican Pledge to America

Paul Krugman wrote yesterday in the New York Times about the failure of the Obama administration to propose a large enough stimulus plan to combat the financial crisis the administration underestimated.

While admitting that the Recovery Act made things better than they would have been—he estimated unemployment would be near 12% without it—Krugman called the stimulus a “political catastrophe.”  “Voters respond to facts,” he said, “not counterfactuals, and the perception is that the administration’s policies have failed.”

He also said this:

The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect be voting to make things even worse.

The resurgent Republicans have learned nothing from the economic crisis, except that doing everything they can to undermine Mr. Obama is a winning political strategy.

It appears that we won’t have to wait until next January to find out if Krugman is right.  This morning on Morning Joe, I heard Major Garrett point out that Republican Mitch McConnell admitted to National Journal magazine the following:

MCCONNELL: We need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, “Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.”

NATIONAL JOURNAL: What’s the job?

MCCONNELL: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

We have seen the de facto head of the Republican Party and conservative movement, Rush Limbaugh, in orgasmic anticipation, wish for the President of the United States to fail.

We have seen the de facto head of the Tea Party movement, Jim DeMint, say, with militaristic glee, that, “If we’re able to stop Obama…it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

And now we see the Republican Minority Leader in the United States Senate, Mitch McConnell, admit to the world, with uncharacteristic honesty, that the “most important thing” on his plate for the next two years is to make sure Republicans gain power.

What more evidence does anyone need that it is not only dumb to put Republicans back in charge of the government, it is dangerous?

This is Republican patriotism, my friends. Crass ass conservatism.

[Krugman photo: Jessica Kourkounis—The New York Times]

Globe Editorial Takes Your Breath Away

Once again, today’s editorial in the Joplin Globe argued for budget austerity:

Learned economists and not-so-learned pundits will provide all the possible explanations or, if you will, excuses, as to why we are still in a sluggish economy.

Is it possible, we ask, if there is any quick fix for what might be a fundamental restructuring of our entire economy?

Given the alarming rate at which our country is increasing its debt, we call on the administration to reconsider efforts to correct the economy through deficit spending.

Oh, my. Such austerity would likely kill any chance of getting the economy up to speed sometime soon. 

But besides that, it is hypocritical of the Globe to argue for cutting back deficit spending to stimulate the economy, when word is published in the same issue that the Joplin “Regional” Airport had secured a new carrier, American Eagle, to provide air service to local residents.

It’s hypocritical because American Eagle will receive a federal government subsidy of nearly $3 million—annually—and the Joplin Globe has been a supporter of this kind of deficit spending.

According to the story, our mayor, Mike Woolston, said that providing airline service helps attract new businesses and industry to our area:

“This is a huge step forward” for Joplin’s economic develop­ment, Woolston said.

He said companies that scout new locations for business look for ways to rule out cities, and the type of airline service that is available is one of those fac­tors.

Fine.  Maybe having an airport will stimulate our local economy in ways that make the subsidy worth it.  And it certainly is commendable that our local paper supports government deficit spending in ways that are presumably designed to stimulate our local economy. 

But what about the larger economy?  Why is it okay to spend nearly $3 million borrowed bucks on Joplin’s tiny travelling public—admittedly mostly for business travelers—and not okay to borrow money to stimulate other folks’ local economies, and thus cause our overall economy to rebound?

Arguing against short-term deficit spending to improve our larger economic fortunes and supporting long-term deficit spending to improve our local economic fortunes is breathtaking hypocrisy.

This is the same kind of hypocrisy that features phony small-government, anti-stimulus politicians—like Roy Blunt*—bad-mouthing Democratic attempts at boosting the economy one day, and attending ribbon-cutting ceremonies for some Recovery Act project the next.

As I say, it’s breathtaking.


* From The Hill in February of this year:

The Kansas City Star published an Associated Press report that Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a candidate for Senate, attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a visitors’ center at a fish hatchery that received $1 million in stimulus funds.

And regarding the Joplin airport itself, here is the opening paragraph from an article published in 2003:

United States Representative Roy Blunt has announced federal funding to assist in seeking new commercial services for the Joplin Regional Airport. This $500,000 grant was provided for the City of Joplin to pursue new opportunities for the Joplin Airport to better serve the Joplin metropolitan area with quality air service.

Of course, back in 2003, when Blunt was proud of using federal dollars in such a way, George Bush was president, not Barack Obama.

Here is a Blunt quote upon completion of the new $15 million terminal at the Joplin airport in 2008, 90% of which was paid for with borrowed federal dollars:

“One of the truly challenging jobs today is to run an airport in a community this size,” Blunt said. “Being able to fly into a community can be the difference if you have jobs or not.”

And here is just a 2008 sample from Blunt’s website, where he frequently boasts about getting some dough–some deficit-increasing dough–for folks back home:

Southwest Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt today announced area priorities he secured federal funding for in the Defense Department’s Appropriations bill for the 2009 fiscal year…

$5.4 million for Missouri State University and St. Johns Health System to improve mobile eye trauma centers for soldiers who sustain severe eye injuries in the field.

$6 million for Missouri State University and Crosslink to develop equipment that delivers medicine directly to the wound, decreasing the required drug dosage for amputee and burn victims wounded in combat.

$7.2 million for Missouri State University and Nantero, Inc., to test and enhance nano-electronic technology that will assist in maintaining space-based ballistic defense applications used within the Department of Defense.

$2.4 million to EaglePicher Technologies to enhance the lifespan and reliability of specialized batteries used by the Armed Forces in weapon and safety systems.

$4 million for Gestalt/Accenture to improve communication systems used by troops on the front line by unifying radios and creating a more secure bandwidth for information distribution.

$5 million for Missouri State University and Foster Miller, Inc., to create a high-tech surveillance system for military instillations and robotic equipment to reduce the risk of injury for military advance teams in combat areas.

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