Archive

  • The Bad News on the Deficit

    While the Bush administration is still touting the good news on the budget deficit, the Commerce Department released data showing that the trade deficit hit another all-time high in August. The current account deficit (the broadest measure of the trade deficit) is now projected to be close to $900 billion in 2006 or 6.6 percent of GDP. In the land where big deficits are more important than smaller deficits, this record trade deficit would be getting serious attention. As it stands, it looks like coverage of the record trade deficit will be buried on the business pages. Most of the bad things people like to say about budget deficits are also true of trade deficits. Large deficits are unsustainable; they provide a temporary boost in living standards at the expense of the living standards of future generations. Unfortunately, the much bigger problem of the trade deficit gets considerably less attention than the budget deficit. --Dean Baker
  • Productivity Ain't What it Used to Be

    CEPR has posted my short note showing that part of the reason that the strong productivity growth of the last six years has not translated into wage growth is due to a graowing share of depreciation in gross output and the difference between the output deflator and the consumer price index. After adjusting for these factors, "usuable" productivity in the current cycle has been 1.85 percent annually (soon to be revised down by 0.1percentage point, due to the benchmark revision showing considerably higher employment growth). This is about 0.7 percentage points below the rate of growth of usable productivity in the sixties. --Dean Baker
  • "FEMINISTS" AGAINST WOMEN....

    "FEMINISTS" AGAINST WOMEN. Admittedly, when it comes to illogic on the part of supporters of criminalized abortion, the rape and incest exemptions are relatively small potatoes. What really gives away the show is their unwillingness to apply criminal sanctions against women who are allegedly committing something akin to murder. Hack politicians , of course, respond to questions about how the Republican Party platform can support a constitutional amendment that would make abortion first-degree murder in all 50 states but would entirely exempt women from punishment by babbling nonsense. But even serious, usually principled pro-life intellectuals like Ramesh Ponnuru are willing to claim that abortion can be comparable to murder as a moral act but a matter of less import than spitting on the sidewalk when it comes to legally punishing women who obtain them. Surely one of these premises must be incorrect. Or, to be more precise, the Republican position on abortion is incoherent... if you...
  • LIBERTARIAN SWINGERS. ...

    LIBERTARIAN SWINGERS. Via Andrew Sullivan comes this bit from Cato's new report on the next big swing group: "Libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by 72 percent to 20 percent, but Bush�s margin dropped in 2004 to 59-38 over John Kerry...The political party that comes to terms with than can win the next generation." Maybe so, but while losing ground amongst the electorate's most important new swing group, didn't George W. Bush uh, increase his share of the vote? It's generally not a good thing when the concessions needed to attract a certain swing group swing the rest of the electorate away from you. More generally, in an era of close elections, it's easy to vaguely word a couple poll questions and conclude that your cohort is 5 percent of the electorate, more than enough to push any party over the edge. But moving to dominate one interest group necessarily means shifting away from others. To own libertarians, for instance, Democrats would have to abandon, well, everyone...
  • "I'M WITH FUZZY."

    "I'M WITH FUZZY." Great things are happening in my onetime adopted home state of Wisconsin. First of all, there was Russ Feingold with the new Air America Morning Zoo crew this morning, talking about how the Democratic senatorial caucus talks big in public, and then folds in private, usually on the advice of consultants "with connections to the previous Democratic administration." And, well, snap , as the kids say. Even if Hillary Clinton doesn't run herself, the internal fight between people who believe that Bill Clinton was the template for Democratic success, and people who believe that he was sui generis, and that Clintonism has proven to be less a governing philosophy than a cult of personality, is going to the presiding dynamic of the next two election cycles. If the Democrats don't capture either house of Congress this time around, the Clinton side will come back with a vengeance. If the Democrats do manage to gain a working majority in either house, some very famous TV pundits...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CENTER-LEFT FOREIGN POLICY RUMBLE.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: CENTER-LEFT FOREIGN POLICY RUMBLE. In the October print issue of the Prospect , James Lindsay reviewed two new books purporting to offer alternative foreign policy visions to both neoconservatism and "liberal hawk" interventionism -- Michael Lind 's The American Way of Strategy and Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman 's Ethical Realism . Today, the authors of those books respond -- vigorously -- to Lindsay. Be sure to read both Lieven/Hulsman's response and Lind's . --The Editors
  • HUH. Word...

    HUH. Word on the street is that Mark Warner will make a surprise announcement at 11am ruling out a presidential run. Stay tuned... -- Ezra Klein
  • EXPORTING AMERICAN VALUES.

    EXPORTING AMERICAN VALUES. Today in Baghdad, according to the Associated Press, gunmen stormed a Sunni television station and killed 11 people. "It was the second attack on a television station in the capital in as many weeks," reports AP writer David Rising . No need here for some sardonic, smart-ass comment about the success of Iraq's democracy experiment. Suffice it to say that whatever they've got by way of 1st Amendment-style protections in the vaunted Constitution of theirs are, in the present situation, pretty meaningless. Of course, once President George W. Bush gets around to signing the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which as already passed both houses of Congress, whatever we've got, in that vaunted U.S. Constitution of ours, by way of 1st Amendment protections will be rendered pretty meaningless. The president has already reserved for himself the right to declare anybody -- citizen or not -- an "enemy combatant," a category the president claims to lack standing for...
  • YOUTUBE THROUGH THE AGES.

    YOUTUBE THROUGH THE AGES. There's an interesting piece by Sam Howe Verhovek in today's L.A. Times about trackers, those (typically young) campaign staffers tasked with carrying audio or audio-visual equipment to their opponents' public events and taping their every utterance. Their goal is simple: Trail after opponents in hopes of catching them saying something contradictory, stupid or malicious -- or trifecta: all three! S.R. Sidarth stands as America's most famous tracker, at least for the moment. But he's certainly not alone. Thinking about trackers made me wonder how history might have turned out in the days before electronic media if, instead, there had been YouTube and videocameras. In 1860, for example (as Richard Hofstadter noted in his classic book, The American Political Tradition ), Abraham Lincoln 's speeches in pro-slavery parts of the country would have been easily and perhaps fatally contrasted with sentiments he expressed in abolitionist regions. Presumably, a...
  • Old Europe vs. the Great American Jobs Machine

    Everyone knows that the dynamic U.S. economy generates new jobs at a much faster pace than the sclerotic economies of "Old Europe." Well everyone is wrong . Since 2000, Old Europe (the EU-15) have generated jobs at a 0.9 percent annual rate compared to a 0.7 percent rate in the U.S.. This follows a decade in which job creation was considerably more rapid in the U.S. than Europe, but for at least the last half decade, Old Europe has been winning the job creation race. --Dean Baker

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