Friday, September 9, 2011

Solving the Structural Problem

The President did come up with some good moves in the big bag of tricks he unloaded at the joint session last night. As one of the comments in today's Washington Post put it, it was a real stemwinder. It was what he needed to do and he did it. Yes, he presented a package that in itself and especially with his presentation would be nigh unto impossible for anyone rational not to accept, and yet...

No, I'm not disappointed that he didn't come out with all barrels blasting, which is what I had been hoping he would do. But he was a step ahead of me. He saw that he had to do things differently from the past--not turn it over, as he did with health care, to Pelosi and Reid. This is the kind of package he should have been putting together from the start, instead of letting himself get rolled by both parties and giving in all over the place.

Sure, it may notwork, but he's got them on the defensive. Maybe the Democrats will start giving him a little support for a change. I put a clip on Facebook of FDR speaking in 1936 about how the Republicans promised they would do everything better--the man's absolute glee in painting a glorious satirical picture was sheer joy. Obama had it all perfect for a change--now he just has to maintain the front without caving.

The structural problems would challenge an FDR or a TR. Place the blame where it belongs: Reagan, who suckered the middle and working classes into voting against their interests, and led them down the damn-the-government blind alley, and Clinton, who fell right in with his Wall Street pals and the Business Roundtable in pushing globalization without any real guidelines.

So now we see every major former U.S.-based manufacturer sitting across the border in Mexico or in Shenzen, a stone's throw from Hong Kong. That's where all the manufacturing jobs are. If all of these traitors got taxed as they deserve, and found out that it wasn't automatic that you could sell in the U.S. market, we could easily balance the budget etc. etc.

Those jobs aren't coming back because both parties are bought and paid for. Any stimulus will help--again, especially if it isn't just a pure giveaway to special interests, which happened the last time he turned it over to his Congressional partners. Yes, the stimulus worked and would have worked better if it had been allocated more rationally and to projects that could get moving. Because of that built-in drag, and the corruption, Krugman was right in saying it needed to have been bigger.

But as long as the corporates are insulated from the effects of their greed, don't expect much change real soon in the economy. Despite that grim picture, for once Obama did the right thing, though, and did it well. It may presage a better time for everyone in 1992. After all, we had Father Coughlin and Gerald L.K. Smith and Huey Long in the 30s, too, just like the crazies today--who control the GOP--who want to go back to 1900 or earlier, much less trash Social Security. Huey's problem, it should be noted, was his dictator-like approach that made Louisiana then almost a totalitarian state, not necessarily what he was trying to do. That's the side of Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men that sometimes gets lost: that Willie Stark started out really trying to help people.

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