Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Blame Gap for Hard Times--and Hope


The economy will go off a financial cliff and take us into deeper recession if Congress and the White House don’t stop bickering to negotiate a sane settlement over expenditures and taxes. So says the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

No surprise in that, just confirmation of what Tea Party naysaying and opposition impotence have done to America for over two years, holding government hostage to manufactured ideological crises like the debt ceiling rather than allowing negotiations to strengthen economic growth and lessen pain.

If the impasse continues, says the CBO, it would shrink the economy by almost 3 percent in the first half of next year and raise unemployment back to 9 percent plus.

“We can't fix the long-run problem of the deficit by just cutting spending,” says former CBO director Alice Rivlin. “And we can't fix it by just raising taxes.

“We have got to do some of each, but in a gradual way over time, and in a much more intelligent way than this actually ridiculous thing which is about to hit us.”

In an otherwise ridiculous election year, little intelligence is on the horizon but there are glimmers, as in a new Pew Research Center survey of self-described middle-class families in economic pain and who they blame for their difficulties. 

The results: Congress, 62 percent; banks and financial institutions, 54; large corporations, 47; Bush administration 44; foreign competition, 39; Obama administration, 34; middle-class people themselves, 8.
 
More than half (52 percent) believe Obama’s policies in a second term would help the middle class, 42 believe Romney’s election would; 71 percent say Romney’s policies would help the rich. As for Obama, 38 percent believe his policies would help the wealthy, 62 percent say they would help the poor.

Such news offers hope that voters are not entirely deceived by what’s going on and won’t be taken in by the tendentious explanation of bankers and politicians spouting nonsense.

We’ll know in November.

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