Commentary

Obama’s “socialist” budget vs. Reagan’s: Some amazing comparisons

obama2Ronald reaganBob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is out with a new and, as always, trenchant and fact-heavy take on President Obama’s new budget proposal. Here, however, are two paragraphs that really speak volumes:

“Some critics undoubtedly will castigate the budget for focusing its deficit reduction efforts on the revenue side. But we should keep several facts in mind. First, its $2.9 trillion in deficit reduction for 2017-2026 would come on top of the $4 trillion to $5 trillion in deficit reduction that policymakers have already achieved since 2010, and those savings came heavily on the spending side. With the new Obama proposals, total deficit reduction over this period would fall roughly 50-50 between spending and revenues, OMB estimates.

Also, part of the proposed Obama revenue increases would effectively “pay for” the large year-end tax bill that policymakers enacted in December without offsetting its cost. Under the budget, federal spending would average 22.3 percent of GDP over the coming decade, which isn’t far above the 21.6 percent average of the Reagan years. Moreover, a significantly larger share of Americans is elderly now and receiving Social Security and Medicare than in the Reagan years. In addition, we’ve experienced more than a quarter-century of health care cost growth since the Reagan years, which has boosted the cost of federal health insurance programs, most notably Medicare.”

You got that? Not only has the President made enormous progress in deficit reduction since taking over during a period of economic chaos, the deficit in his latest proposal is essentially on par with those of Reagan years. Indeed, given our aging population and the skyrocketing costs of healthcare in recent decades, its quite arguably more conservative and tightfisted than the ones the country lived under during the presidency of the modern Right’s patron saint.

At a supposedly nonpartisan Locke Foundation event the other day (the one at which the group’s former boss, in truly nonpartisan fashion, lambasted a current candidate for President as a “a charlatan, and just a pathetic, disgusting human being”), a conservative politico attacked President Obama (according to a tweet by a Locke  staffer) for supposedly seeing himself as “the linear heir to continue FDR’s socialist agenda.”

If that’s so, Greenstein’s post makes clear that the “line” ran through Ronald Reagan as well.

Commentary

Don’t miss chance to hear nation’s leading progressive economist January 21

From the good people at the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center:

Don’t forget to RSVP for a special keynote address and conversation with national policy expert Jared Bernstein.

Jared bernsteinFrom Recovery to Prosperity: What North Carolina Needs to Build an Economy for All

January 21st at 11:30 am

McKimmon Center at NC State University
1101 Gorman Street, Raleigh, NC

Individual Tickets $20

Student Tickets $10

Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, will share his research on the state of the economy, insights into North Carolina’s performance relative to the nation and policy ideas that will improve employment outcomes and support broad economic well-being across the state.

The Budget & Tax Center will also offer a brief presentation on how we can ensure opportunity and prosperity are broadly shared among all North Carolinians.

It’s clear that a new approach to our economy is needed. Median incomes and wages continue to fall, costs for the basics are rising and many of the pathways out of poverty or protections for people struggling have been eroded due to tax cuts and flawed policy choices at the state level. Beyond the rhetoric, the facts on the ground demonstrate that North Carolina has not connected all communities and provided opportunities for everyone to be successful in the economy.

BUY TICKETS TODAY!

Table sponsorships are also available. Contact Alexandra Sirota at 919-861-1468 or alexandra@ncjustice.org to find out more.

Commentary

Vice President Biden’s former economist to speak in Raleigh January 21 – Reserve your seat today

From our colleagues at the N.C. Budget and Tax Center:

Jared bernsteinGet your tickets today for a conversation about what’s next for North Carolina’s economy

What will it take for North Carolina’s economy to work for everyone not just a few? The state’s economy is recovering along with the nation but there are troubling signs that the expansion is not reaching many in North Carolina.

Join us for a special keynote address and conversation with national policy expert Jared Bernstein.

From Recovery to Prosperity: What North Carolina Needs to Build an Economy for All

January 21st at 11:30 am
McKimmon Center at NC State University
1101 Gorman Street, Raleigh, NC

Individual Tickets $20
Student Tickets $10

Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, will share his research on the state of the economy, insights into North Carolina’s performance relative to the nation and policy ideas that will improve employment outcomes and support broad economic well-being across the state.

The Budget & Tax Center will also offer a brief presentation on how we can ensure opportunity and prosperity are broadly shared among all North Carolinians.

It’s clear that a new approach to our economy is needed. Median incomes and wages continue to fall, costs for the basics are rising and many of the pathways out of poverty or protections for people struggling have been eroded due to tax cuts and flawed policy choices at the state level. Beyond the rhetoric, the facts on the ground demonstrate that North Carolina has not connected all communities and provided opportunities for everyone to be successful in the economy.

BUY TICKETS TODAY!

Table sponsorships are also available. Contact Alexandra Sirota at 919-861-1468 or alexandra@ncjustice.org to find out more.

Commentary

New report: Obama policies greatly reduced severity of Great Recession

EconomyProgressives have lots of good reasons to wish that President Obama and the 2009-10 Congress has taken an even more aggressive approach in responding to the Great Recession. More stimulus spending and a more aggressive push to reform giant financial institutions would have undoubtedly have helped things get better faster — especially in places like North Carolina.

That said, for all the imperfections of their approach, it’s absolutely clear that the economy is much better off today than it would have been without it (and exponentially better off than it would have been had the U.S. followed the do-nothing, “cuts first” approach promoted by conservatives). For confirmation of this reality check out this new report from two of the nation’s top economists. Their central finding: the federal government’s responses were a resounding success.

Bob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities summarized their findings in this recent post:

In a major new paper for CBPP’s Policy Futures initiative, Alan Blinder, former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman, and Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, explain that “the massive and multifaceted policy responses to the financial crisis and Great Recession — ranging from traditional fiscal stimulus to tools that policymakers invented on the fly — dramatically reduced the severity and length of the meltdown that began in 2008; its effects on jobs, unemployment, and budget deficits; and its lasting impact on today’s economy.”

Without the policy responses of late 2008 and early 2009, Blinder and Zandi estimate that:

  • The peak-to-trough decline in real gross domestic product (GDP), which was barely over 4 percent, would have been close to a stunning 14 percent.
  • The economy would have contracted for more than three years, more than twice as long as it did.
  • More than 17 million jobs would have been lost, about twice the actual number.
  • Unemployment would have peaked at just under 16 percent, rather than the actual 10 percent.
  • The budget deficit would have grown to more than 20 percent of GDP, about double its actual peak of 10 percent, topping off at $2.8 trillion in fiscal 2011.
  • Today’s economy would be far weaker than it is — with real GDP in the second quarter of 2015 about $800 billion lower than its actual level, 3.6 million fewer jobs, and unemployment at a still-dizzying 7.6 percent.

This landmark paper is especially important because Read more

Commentary

Expert: Dan Forest’s constitutional convention a “dangerous” idea

As reported on N.C. Policy Watch recently, some advocates on the far right — including North Carolina’s own Lt. Governor — have been pushing the radical idea of late that it’s time for a second American constitutional convention.

For those who haven’t given the idea much thought, the dangers that would accompany such a move may not be readily apparent. Thankfully, veteran national policy analyst Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained them in a recent column for the Washington Post.

As Greenstein noted, such an event could be a disastrous free-for-all:

The Constitution sets no rules for how a constitutional convention would work. What standards determine whether 34 states have called for a convention? Do all resolutions that state legislatures have ever passed count — even if they called for conventions on very different topics, or were passed 50 or 100 years ago, or were later rescinded, as some have been? Oklahoma, for instance, passed a resolution in 1976 calling for a convention but rescinded it in 2009, citing concerns about throwing the Constitution wide open to unknown changes; some proponents argue that Oklahoma should still count anyway. Can that be right? The Constitution is silent on all of these issues.

That’s just the start.  If a convention were called, how many delegates would each state get, and how would they be selected? How long could the convention last? The Constitution provides no guidance on those questions either.

He continued: Read more