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US: National Survey (Economist 7/3-6)

Topics: National , poll

Economist / YouGov
7/3-6/10; 1,000 adults, 3.4% margin of error
Mode: Internet
(Economist release)

National

Obama Job Approval
43% Approve, 52% Disapprove (chart)
Dems: 76 / 19 (chart)
Reps: 8 / 90 (chart)
Inds: 36 / 59 (chart)
Economy: 37 / 58 (chart)
Health Care: 43 / 51 (chart)

Congressional Job Approval
13% Approve, 65% Disapprove (chart)

2010 Congress: Generic Ballot
Registered voters (n=710, MOE=3.8%): 47% Democrat, 43% Republican (chart)
All adults: 45% Democrat, 39% Republican

Favorable / Unfavorable
Barack Obama: 47 / 49 (chart)
Nancy Pelosi: 32 / 49
Harry Reid: 22 / 42
Newt Gingrich: 34 / 40
Joe Biden: 40 / 46
Sarah Palin: 39 / 53 (chart)
Hillary Clinton: 57 / 37 (chart)
Mitt Romney: 35 / 35 (chart)

State of the Country
27% Right Direction, 61% Wrong Track (chart)

Do you think the U.S. Senate should or should not confirm Elena Kagan as a Supreme Court Justice?
40% Should confirm, 28% Should not confirm

 

Comments
jamesia:

I'm sure an Internet poll is of similar efficacy as an automated poll... but this is one of the few I've seen that give Dems a large edge in the generic ballot while simultaneously giving Obama net negative favorable rating.

If more than one poll comes out showing similar numbers, I'll buy it as a trend, but for now this poll seems bunk

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HookedOnPolls:

Yeah, jamesia. How odd that Obama's numbers are so different than Dems numbers.

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jamesia:

Well it's possible, I guess. Bush II's favorable numbers were absolutely abysmal, yet the national GOP had (and still have) slightly less abysmal favorability. I see no reason why the same can't happen in the Democratic party too.

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Farleftandproud:

For a liberal pollster, they really know how to make Obama's approval even worse than Rasmussen. It is strange that they have Obama's favorability down yet Democrats come out ahead on the generic. Maybe they have done a lot of polling in places like LA, MS and WV where they vote Democrat yet just don't trust the foreign president with darker skin.

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vincent106:

It took four whole posts for some libtard to introduce race today. I thought it would be lat or melvin but farleftandproud is right up their in lunacy.

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dpearl:

This poll has lots of interesting cross-tabulated stuff in it - in the 83 page full report of tables beyond the press release. This includes many issues often discussed by various commentators here; like where do you get your news (liberals versus conservatives) or belief in need for strong government to handle economic problems versus the free market. Plenty of fodder for everyone.

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Field Marshal:

dpearl,

So does the Democracy Corps one released yesterday which i finally had a chance to go through.

That one showed that 56% of people feel Obama is too liberal. And 55% associate the word socialist with him.

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melvin:

The reason Obama numbers are not better then the Democrats is because of the oil spill and Immigration reform.Obama approval rating among Hispanics are 57%,but the Democrats approval rating among Hispanics is 70%.Obama have a problem with his base.The liberal base is very upset with Obama, because we are tired of him caving in to everything the Gop criticizes him on"Obama approval rating will be 50% strong if he would have (1)Put a public option in the HCB (2) Pulled the troops immediatley out of Iraq (3) Nominated 1 liberal judge on the Supreme Court (4) Passed Immigration reform in his 1st year (5) Closed down Guatalomo bay and overturned the Patriot act (6) Failing to appoint a liberal in his cabinet (7) Putting hudge taxcuts in the Stimulus package just to attract Republicans,in cutting the money in the package from 900 billion to 780 billion which was not enough to to put Americans back to work,in the gop knew that"If Obama would have done half of these things in his 1st year,then his approval rating would be very strong with his base.The Gop have Obama thinking he is the most Liberal President in this Country history when they know he is a long way from being a liberal.thats why he should have done all of those things to give the Gop a reason to call him a Liberal.

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dpearl:

FM: I was certainly surprised that the "Socialist" tag has stuck with so many people, that is interesting. Not really true in my mind as any real socialist will tell you - but definitely interesting data.

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Field Marshal:

Yeah, i guess it depends on one's definition of socialism. But what's interesting is that some people, roughly 10%, approve of Obama and associate him as socialist.

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Paleo:

There's only one defintion of socialism. It's not a subjective thing.

Obama's numbers and the generic numbers don't jive. Not the first time with this poll.

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melvin:

Do you know what Rush Limbaugh,Ann Coulter,Michelle Malken,Sarah Palin,Sean Hannity,Michael Salvage and Glenn Beck have in common? They all made millions off of stupid working class Republicans.If you add up their incomes the past 12 months it comes out to a total of 300 million dollars.A survey came out yesterday showing the widest gap in 80 years between the rich in the poor, that is scarey.The right-wing talkers are becoming very rich off the backs of blue collar Republicans,but their to stupid to notice it.Democrats only made 10 million dollars, because they don't use hard working Democrats to become rich.

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Stillow:

"vincent106:
It took four whole posts for some libtard to introduce race today. I thought it would be lat or melvin but farleftandproud is right up their in lunacy. "

Ya, I think the liberals on this site have a running contest every day on who can be the first to call non Obama supporters racists. I think they get a ribbon printed on recycled paper, an enviromentally safe sticker that says "You're a racist" and a signed picture of Keith Olberman.

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Sean Murphy:

"Closed down Guatalomo bay"

I'm sorry i'm not familiar with that one.

"The Gop have Obama thinking he is the most Liberal President in this Country history"

Uhh because he is Melvin? By the end of his first(and only) term he'll go down as the biggest spender in U.S. history.

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Paleo:

"The Gop have Obama thinking he is the most Liberal President in this Country history"

Exactly. They never heard of FDR, for example? Or LBJ? But then again, for a lot of them, history began on January 20, 2009.

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melvin:

Once again you are wrong Sean Murphy,your beloved 43rd ranked Mr Bush will go down as the biggest spender in this Countries history by a wide margin.His taxcuts alone should win him that honor.

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dpearl:

Of course tax cuts would not be considered "spending" but do affect the deficit. Prescription drug coverage and the two wars would be examples of increased spending.

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Stillow:

Listening to libs talk about spending is hilarious. You libs do realize Barry's first year in office he tripled the deficit? And his own projections have a trillion dollar + deficit for the next 6 years....and we will reach 20 trillion in debt by 2015.

Barry told us to pass his stimulus which was all deficit spending to stop unemployment....oooops!

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Bigmike:

An odd poll due to the generic ballot numbers. But it is also the first I have seen that has BO in negative territory for favorability. And they are in the same ballpark as Ras for job approval.

This one seems to indicate that nobody likes anyone.

Throw ALL of the bums out!

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Paleo:

"Barry told us to pass his stimulus which was all deficit spending to stop unemployment....oooops! "

The stupidity is astounding.

Without the stimulus, the unemployment rate would be close to 11%, and we'd have over 2 million less jobs. The problem was/is that it didn't go far enough.

I love when people like you whine about the deficit, when not a peep was uttered about it from 2001 to 2009.

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Paleo:

"You're going to face a choice in November. This is a choice between the policies that got us into this mess in the first place, and the policies that are getting us out of this mess. And what the other side is counting on is people not having a very good memory.""


http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/07/09/4644438-first-thoughts-forward-vs-backward

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StatyPolly:

"And what the other side is counting on is people not having a very good memory"

Looks like BOBO is counting on average Americans to be as clueless on economics as he is.

Something I learned in my first selster in college, econ101 - CAPITALISM IS CYCLICAL.

BOBO's applied economics - smooth flowing toilet bowl vortex.

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Paleo:

"Something I learned in my first selster in college, econ101 - CAPITALISM IS CYCLICAL."

Yeah, and if a Republican had come into office with the economy bleeding 700,000 jobs a month, I'm sure you would have said the same thing.

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Stillow:

Paleo - That was a masterful strawman you just built. its impossible to prove the stimulus saved a job. its an unprovable stat. To say things would be worse if it had not passed is totally bogus and anyone able to think for themselves knows it....and that is why stimulus approval is way way way below 50.

It was not me who stood up and said pass this stimulus and unemployment will not go above 8 percent....that was your boy Barry who said that.

Deficit spending at this rate has its own set of problems....and despite your strawman, there were plenty of peeps abouts pending under Bush. have you any idea how many fiscal conservatives did not vote for Bush in 2004? Myself among them. It does not matter if your a D or an R, to much spneding is a bad thing and chould be pointed out no matter who the president is.

But idealogues like yourself thinks it sperfectly ifne when its a D. Barry's spending has only made the reocvery stagnate...his policies will prolong the recession, much like FDR's did in the 30's. and assuming WW3 does not break out to pull us out, it will take a fiscal conservative to solve the problems.

The core problem is spending....in a few years the intrest payment alone o nthe added debt Barry is putting on us will almost be unpayable.

Leave the strawmen stuff in your classroom, here in the real world they are easily burned to a crisp.

I cannot prove it, but I just perosnally saved 2 million jobs..........can you prove I did not?

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Stillow:

"Paleo:
"Something I learned in my first selster in college, econ101 - CAPITALISM IS CYCLICAL."

Yeah, and if a Republican had come into office with the economy bleeding 700,000 jobs a month, I'm sure you would have said the same thing. "

Reagan inherited a severe recession....and tookthe oppositt eapproach as Barry. he cut and taxes and empowered the private sector....and we emerged from a severe recession and Reagan was rewarded with a landslide victory in 1984.

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Paleo:

It's not a strawman, it's a fact.

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/115xx/doc11525/05-25-ARRA.pdf

If you choose not to believe, it's because *you're* an ideologue.

Spending made the economy stagnate? Not only is that untrue, but stagnation would have been wonders compared to it was when he came in.

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Stillow:

Paleo - G'ment spending leads to a stagnant recovery. It happened in the 30's, its happening now. Many economists are now talking about a double dip...and the debt bubble is getting bigger and bigger and when it pops, watch out. Give tax cuts to people so they can go spend REAL money and not money that was borrowed by g'ment or printed.

We've been here before and the formula which Reagan provided we know works for this type of recession.

Keep with your strawman.........hey just now I saved another 40,000 jobs....just because I said so.

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Paleo:

"Reagan inherited a severe recession....and tookthe oppositt eapproach as Barry. he cut and taxes and empowered the private sector."

Untrue. The economy did not go into recession until after Bonzo's tax plan had been passed. Unemployment peaked at 10.8% in late '82.

And anyway, I thought CAPITALISM IS CYCLICAL. And, horrors, look at the deficits that resulted.

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Field Marshal:

Paleo,

Its fact because the CBO used a bogus model to theorize jobs were saved? Theory is not fact. Its just that... theory.

From Reason Magazine:

See, the CBO doesn’t actually count jobs created. Instead, it uses models that assume that putting taxpayer money into the system results in additional demand, additional spending, and, consequently, additional jobs. Before the stimulus passed, it used these models to predict that the stimulus would create jobs. And now, in analyzing its effects, it’s using those same models to estimate that it has created jobs. But because the CBO relies on slightly updated versions of the same, original models throughout the process, it wouldn’t necessarily detect the fact that the stimulus didn’t work if that were the case.

“Critics of the stimulus listen up: CBO estimates that it put 2.8 million ppl to work in 1st 3 months of 2010.” But it’s stimulus boosters who ought to be paying more attention: Douglas Elmendorf, the head of the Congressional Budget Office, has stated plainly that his team’s estimates do not measure real-world outputs (just inputs), that they do not serve as an independent check on its success or failure, and that if the stimulus had not created jobs, the CBO’s figures would not reflect that fact. So no, sorry, try again: The CBO’s updates do not actually confirm whether or not the stimulus is creating jobs.

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Paleo:

"G'ment spending leads to a stagnant recovery."

Yes, a true ideologue. When the facts get in the way of the ideology, get rid of the facts.

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Paleo:

"From Reason Magazine"

I stopped right there.

The CBO is a neutral, highly respected institution. You have no problem accepting their deficit projections. But when it comes to this, you take the word of a far right publication with an ideological axe to grind.

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Field Marshal:

LOL. Yeah, attack the source not the content. Just like you did with Stillows comment. Just blame ideology and a lack of facts when you present zero yourself. Keep burying your head in the sand Paleo!

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Paleo:

Let's see, the Congressional Budget Office or some right-wing rag? Which one would objective observers look to for factual information?

Keep denying the truth and burying your head in the sand. The stimulus saved up to 2.8 million jobs, and probably more by now. I know it hurts to admit it. But not surprising, since folks like you began saying the stimulus failed before it was even passed.

Verdict first, trial later.

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StatyPolly:

During TARP debate in the fall of 08, I posted on another board that I opposed bailing out big banks. Let them fail, I said. Yes, the economy will crush, but within 12-18 months will have an intense growth and recovery on steroids. I predicted that if TARP goes thru, we'll have a much softer landing, followed by years of Japanese 1990's style malaise. After all, that's pretty much what they're doing with their banks. Stimulus and other spending just added to the same dynamics. They prevent a full collapse, but they also prevent a full and unencumbered recovery.

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dpearl:

While Reagan was a tax cutter and de-regulator he was also a big spender. Here's some data.
Government spending as a % of GDP
under Carter (1977: 32.91%, 1978: 32.02%, 1979: 31.58%, 1980: 33.72%, avg = 32.56%)
under Reagan term I (1981: 33.64%, 1982: 36.25%, 1983: 36.31%, 1984: 34.44%, avg = 35.16%)
under Reagan term II (1985: 35.48%, 1986: 35.71%, 1987: 35.09%, 1988: 34.73%, avg = 35.25%)

Also,

Every year that he was in office Reagan submitted a budget with more spending than congress later approved so I am also skeptical of the argument that Congress was the culprit for his high spending.

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Paleo:

""Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate
real estate. Purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of
living and high living will come down... enterprising people will
pick up the wrecks from less competent people.""

Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon in 1931.

By the time he left office two years later, the unemployment rate had more than doubled to 25%.

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seg:

Paleo:
"Congressional Budget Office is neutral"

You do understand that the C in CBO stands for "Congressional"?

Every person in it is hired and fired by the party that controls the House, which has been the Democrats for nearly 4 years now.

In the past, the CBO has at times been remarkably resistant to political pressure. This group, not so much. Note that it has become a pathway to administration jobs, which is always a bad sign.

I will give this group credit for rolling their eyes and showing body language of virtuous helplessness and brave humiliation when they presented estimates based on laughable Pelosi-mandated assumptions, which were helpfully documented in the fine print but never stated for the cameras.

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Stillow:

I just saved another 10,000 jobs before writing this.

Yes Paleo, g'ment spending leads to a slow and stagnant recovery....as was the case under FDR as is the case now. It goes to the core fundamental differences between a liberal and conservative. A conservative believes you create growth by letting people keep more of their money to spend the way they see fit and to make their own decisions in life as a result of that freedom.

Where a liberal believes that your money is best spent by g'ment and that the individual lacks the capacity to spend the money wisely. so by default higher taxes are needed in order to seize more money from people so that g'ment can spend it instead of the person....thus g'ment makes more of your decisions for you since they control more of your money.

Growth comes when consumers spend their own money...that is how we crawled out in the early 80's....by allowing people to keep more of there earnings and spend it the way they see fit. Now we have the opposite approach, take more money from people so g'ment can spend it how it sees fit. It is a fundamental difference. Libs simply think politicians in DC are better suited to manage your financial affairs than you are. That g'ment spending is a better stimulus than private spending.

History has shown that to not be the case...and it will do so again when the double dip so many fear is coming gets here.

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Paleo:

The CBO is independent. It's relevance depends on that:

http://mostlyeconomics.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/historical-perspective-on-congressional-budget-office/

But keep making up "facts" as you go along.

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StatyPolly:

"By the time he left office two years later, the unemployment rate had more than doubled to 25%"

I am no Great Depression historian, but yes, had Mellon's advice been followed a collapse would have necessarily ensued. Is that what happened? Did they have the discipline to allow free market to spark recovery?

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""We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong ... somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... And an enormous debt to boot!"

Henry Morganthau, Secretary of the Treasury 1939

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Paleo:

"I am no Great Depression historian, but yes, had Mellon's advice been followed a collapse would have necessarily ensued. Is that what happened?"

Yes. Before FDR even took office.

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seg:

"Congressional Budget Office is neutral"
Correction: director appointed jointly by Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate. Either house can remove him for any reason.

Not exactly in a position to resist political pressure. Probably for the best that he is not, since the politicos should be held completely responsible for what they do. On the other hand, they should not be mistaken for an independent body or voice.

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Field Marshal:

Let's see, the Congressional Budget Office or some right-wing rag? Which one would objective observers look to for factual information?

You would rather believe the CBO for the facts about the stimulus? Well, that's fine. I'm not saying the CBO is wrong, I'm saying they are just using modeling that may be completely wrong- which the CBO plainly admits. The director of the CBO specifically stated that the 1.5 million jobs saved or created number was determined (and still used) before a single cent of the stimulus was spent. The jobs created is based on an economic model the uses the premise that all stimulus dollars create jobs.

Taking the CBO's projections, where the economists who cannot get real jobs go to work, is similar to believing independent Moodys and S&P for your investment quality ratings. How would that have worked out for you in the past few years?

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StatyPolly:

"Yes. Before FDR even took office."

Oh yeah, like out VP I also forgot when FDR took office.

>>>""Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmers, liquidate
real estate. Purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of
living and high living will come down... enterprising people will
pick up the wrecks from less competent people.""

Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon in 1931.

You see, Paleo, that would be exactly my prescription for a serious recession. So that's what they did in 31, unemployment went up to 25% (as I said earlier, no bailouts would lead to a collapse) but then FDR came in a year later and he never gave Mellon's free-market solution a chance to work.

Makes perfect sense.

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dpearl:

SEG: As you corrected yourself, only the CBO Director is a congressional appointee. The staff at the CBO are very much nonpartisan and there have not been any allegations what-so-ever that the Director has put political pressure on staff reports. Thus I don't see the basis for your assumption that the CBO is not neutral.
As with any analyses where the data have not yet been fully observed, modeling assumptions are made in order to make estimates. As Field Marshal alludes, arguments over the validity of those assumptions and their effect on the resulting estimates is where the legitimate debate really lies.

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dpearl:

Stillow: Where did you get the idea that we experienced a stagnant recovery under FDR? FDR took office in March 1933 with unemployment over 25% and introduced much of the New Deal programs and government spending in the first 100 days of his term. By the time the U.S. entered World War II at the end of 1941 unemployment was below 10% and GDP had doubled. GDP growth was 10.8% in 1934, 8.9% in 1935 and 12.0% in 1936 and was higher than the pre-depression record. At the beginning of his second term FDR greatly reduced the New Deal programs and there was a recession in 1937 and 1938 (though GDP never went below the pre-Depression record even during that recession). Government spending increased again and the following years saw rapid growth again. The idea of growth of GDP in the SHORT TERM following government spending is pretty hard to dispute in my mind. I think it is the long term issues that are much more disputable since clearly continual increases in spending is not sustainable.

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Field Marshal:

dpearl,

FDR also raised taxes on the rich and on businesses to punitive levels in 1937 and the unemployment rate just backed above 20%. FDR probably hated private business more than Obama. A gallup poll from 1937 asked if FDR's attitude toward business was delaying the recovery and the response was 2-1 yes.

Any data points beyond 1939 are not apple-to-apples due to the war. Yes, we didn't declare until 1941 but with the lend-lease act we were producing billions of dollars worth of goods for the UK and Russia. (through that in there for the government school educated readers).

My opinion is still that FDR was one of our worst presidents. I know that goes against contemporary consensus but that's my opinion.

____________________

Field Marshal:
____________________

seg:

Depression:
Prior to the Depression, these things were called "Panics," and for good reason: the difference between a recession and a depression was a panic followed by a sustained run on the banks, which sometimes became self-perpetuating but generally lasted a year or less. Occassionally, there would be fantastic over-leveraging of debt, which would produce a fiscal crash followed by sovereign defaults. That could last for a generation. (see This Time is Different by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff)

Prior to both the GD and in 2008 GR, we had tremendous levels of private, commercial, and industrial debt with enormous leverages. In both cases, when the real estate asset bubbles popped, a debacle necessarily ensued.

In the GD, Mellon committed the great sin of pouring gasoline instead of water on the panic. Were it not for the fragile state of the financial system, even his folly probably would not have had lasting effects.

The panic grew. FDR ended that stage by his bank holiday and other temporary measures.

Bush, Paulson, Bernanke, and Obama successfully quelled the panic, though at the long-term cost of socializing bank and real estate debts.

So both FDR (and to a lesser degree, Obama) deserves credit for ending a panic, but each also should be held to account for turning a severe downturn into a lasting one. In both cases, they combined a punishing regulatory environment with unpredictability and aggressive hostility to businesses. Both exempted crony businesses from the latter and insulated them from the former. The major difference is that FDR stayed bought and Obama once again callously tossed suddenly inconvenient people and groups under the bus.

The result in both cases was/has been cash hoarding by businesses in place of new hiring. In FDR's case, in 1937 he had Congress pass a tax on cash held by companies to force them to hire. The result was a debacle described by Amity Shales in the Forgotten Man. It occurred after Congress passed the bill and before FDR could sign it.

Congress finally withdrew the measure, but it played a role in the severe 1938 recession. Liberals, for some reason, never seem to want to talk or write about that episode and its consequences.

I fully expected Obama to propose something similar, with similar effects. He seems to believe in retro politics, especially when combined with a highly filtered reading of history.

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dpearl:

Sorry guys, I just don't see the data the same way. I think the banking and securities regulations introduced by FDR played a key role in the subsequent stability of the system. I also see great value in infrastructure and education spending that clearly helps to grease the private economic wheels down the line. I do recognize the "throwing gas on the fire" aspect of increasing taxes during a downturn though and that was clearly bad economics in both Hoover and FDR's approaches.

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Paleo:

"You see, Paleo, that would be exactly my prescription for a serious recession. So that's what they did in 31, unemployment went up to 25% (as I said earlier, no bailouts would lead to a collapse) but then FDR came in a year later and he never gave Mellon's free-market solution a chance to work.

Makes perfect sense."

Especially to the 1 in 4 who were unemployed.

It's easy to be blase about unemployment and poverty when you never actually have to confront it.

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Paleo:

"FDR also raised taxes on the rich and on businesses to punitive levels in 1937 and the unemployment rate just backed above 20%."

No, he raised taxes and cut spending because of concern over a budget deficit. When the economy was not out of the woods yet. Sound anything like what the economic elitists in congress, wall street and the MSM are calling for today?

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melvin:

The tax rate for the rich was between 70%- 90% from 1938 until the early 70s you idiots.Right now its only 32%,that's why the Govt cant fund the States,because this country is giving out more then it is taking in.The Republicans have poison the mind of Americans,now Americans think they should not have to pay taxes for anything,but at the same time they wants the Govt to pay for everything.The Republicans are the most hypocritical people on the face of the earth.

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Paleo:

"Great article in todays Post about FDR too."

Not an article, an opinion piece by a right-wing reporter who fancies herself as an historian.

FDR knew how to swat away these "economic royalists," as he called them. Unfortunately, Obama is no FDR.

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Bigmike:

I think the CBO does a reasonably non-partisan job for the most part. Their one drawback is the rules they operate under. They have to score the bill they are given. And Congress knows it, so they write the bills in a way to get a better score.

Say Congress passes a law that raises taxes immediately by $100 billion a year. And that same law raises spending by $200 billion a year for years 7 thru 10. That law cuts the deficit by $200 billion over 10 years, even tho it is not sustainable over the long run. But the CBO is required to report that the bill will reduce the deficit. Gee, sounds like Obamacare.

I am appalled that people are not screaming about the medicare cuts that Congress just undid. That was supposed to be the big savings in Obamacare that made it cost "only" $900 billion over the first 10 years. Congress just delayed those cuts for 6 months at a cost of $6.4 billion. Over 10 years that comes out to $128 billion. The cost of Obamacare just went up.

And why was it necessary? Because the govt was afraid medicaid patients would be turned away. Denied care. And that was in the bill to "improve" the health care system.

It was all built on smoke and mirrors.

____________________

Bigmike:

Of course I meant medicare when I said medicaid on that last. Fingers and breain not in sync.

____________________

seg:

Paleo:
"The CBO is independent. It's relevance depends on that:"

Your referenced site was written by Ima Pollyanna.

Please explain the mechanism (other than the traits of extreme honor and honesty that pervade Washington) that guarantees that independence. Do both parties have a veto on the Director and staff? No. Do both parties have equal votes on selecting the director? No. Does the minority party have a damn thing to do with selecting him? Not according to the CBO website.

Its director is appointed by the House and Senate leadership to a 4-yr term. I see nothing on CBO's website that indicates the director cannot be fired at any time. He is a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of politicians.

I believe the previous CBO director became Obama's budget director. He was notably partisan and made what I consider to be ridiculous claims for Obama. Need I go on?

Okay. I will. Elmendorf, himself, testified in response to a question on the hill that he was required to score all budgets using the assumptions given to him by the "requester." He would not express an opinion about those assumptions. He has been honest enough to repeat many times that his estimates on the medical reform bill were based on those assumptions.

This means that whatever his honesty and diligence, his estimate can be skewed to any degree desired by stating assumptions in the inappropriate manner desired (overestimated growth rate, $500bn will really be cut from medicare, companies will not game the system, individual citizens will not game the system, etc.).

Do you still maintain that it is an independent body?

____________________

seg:

more FDR:
I agree that most of the banking and Wall Street reforms were excellent (and written in a few dozen pages, I believe). I believe they had a great deal to do with the Great Moderation we enjoyed until recently.

I believe Graham and Clinton should be tarred and feathered for castrating the Glass-Steagall Act

I believe Glass-Steagall should be restored and expanded to cover all forms of securities.

I believe the Frank-Dodd act is exactly what you would expect for those two corrupt pols. Its 2000+ pages is a monstrous combination of disquised or punitive taxes, special interest pleadings, liberal goodies, and almost totally avoids the real problems while over-reaching on things that had little or nothing to do with our present difficulties.

In short, it is perfectly representative of this Congress and this president.

____________________

StatyPolly:

"Especially to the 1 in 4 who were unemployed. It's easy to be blase about unemployment and poverty when you never actually have to confront it."

Sure, Paleo. Watching "the poor" suffer is even more stimulating and enjoyable for a conservative than smoking crack is for a liberal. Ahhh, alive with pleasure.

But, I bet most "poor" would rather be unemployed at 25+% for a year or two, than be unemployed at 15% for 10-15 years. 15% is about the average for FDR's tenure, and about what our real current rate is.

Another way to look at it, you'd rather walk around with a nagging toothache for weeks and months, because you're too scared of the pain that a quickie visit to the dentist would cause. Same logic there.

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Paleo:

"But, I bet most "poor" would rather be unemployed at 25+% for a year or two, than be unemployed at 15% for 10-15 years.

I guess they didn't. That's why FDR was elected in a landslide in 1932, after a couple of years of Mellon's "let them eat cake" philosophy. And again in 1936.

Interesting you put "poor" in quotes. I don't know if that's your skepticsm that the poor were really "poor" or skeptical that the could not have found a job. In either case, it's an example of your economic elitism.

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seg:

dpearl:
Thank you for your responses.

I have always been intrigued by how systems operate. The US system is beautiful because of its checks and balances. It does not depend on altruism, chivalry, nobless oblige, etc. It depends on the basic honesty of people when they are worried they could get caught.

The CBO has no checks or balances other than the honor and professional of all too human men and women. The CBO is a group whose director is appointed by the political majority. The makes him ultimately their creature. He appoints those under him, that makes them political appointees, also, since his vulnerability becomes theirs.

The CBO has been around since 1974. We really have little idea what temptations have been presented and rejected or presented and accepted. It has been in the interest of the controlling party to allow the CBO the dignity of the appearance of independence, however that much that has been true or compromised.

History has shown us that institutions and individuals can be subverted, seduced, or coerced very quickly. Again, it is the checks and balances backed up by political power (and to a lesser degree, the courts) that provide true independence (or at least the means to resist, if not the will).

The Federal Reserve, for example, which has far more institutional independence than the CBO, has a record of uncanny correspondence between its actions and the interests of an incumbent president running for re-election.

Furthermore, the Fed has shown itself to be highly susceptible to pressures from Congress, jawboning by the president, and even criticism by the news media.

Obama's recruitment of the previous CBO director to manage his budget office greatly weakened the psychological wall around the CBO. I believe historians will view that "promotion" as preliminary whoring around.

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dpearl:

SEG: I think you have all four points of your argument wrong.

While the Director is appointed for a four-year term by the Congressional leadership, he/she cannot be removed summarily by that leadership as you suggest. Removal takes a congressional resolution – and it is pretty clear that such a firing would generate so much heat that the CBO Director is essentially insolated from it.

Secondly, the Director does not hire all new staff – just a few – so there is actually low turn-over and a good mix of conservative and liberal economists and policy analysts. I understand your skepticism about whether they live up to the standard on the CBO website that “..all appointments are based solely on professional competence, without regard to political affiliation,” but I have not seen any data that suggests otherwise. In fact having a mixed staff should dramatically help their independence and nonpartisan analyses since an attempt to influence staff would create instant whistle blowers. (Here I am following your argument that we can greater honesty when the fear of getting caught in dishonesty is present).

Thirdly, people that are in the top of their profession as policy analysts will find their way into many government positions and essentially all CBO directors have gone either from the executive branch to the CBO or from the CBO to the executive branch at some point. For example June O’Neill and Dan Crippen from the Reagan and Nixon White House to the CBO or Doug Holtz-Eakin from service to GHW Bush and GW Bush to the CBO. They also tend to spend much of their careers as senior fellows at think tanks and in academics. Thus, I don’t consider that “whoring around” and doubt Peter Orszag’s move to OMB will ever be viewed that way. This is especially true since he had no particular connection to President Obama while at the CBO and recently resigned from OMB with Obama trying to get him to stay on. I would have a much bigger problem with previous or subsequent appointments to extremely high paying jobs in the private banking sector (perhaps that shows something about how our different personal biases creates skepticism in different arenas).

Finally, contrary to your implications, the current CBO Director, Douglas Elmendorf, is not known as a particularly liberal economist. He was trained at Harvard by Reagan’s Director of the Council of Economic Advisers. He worked at the CBO in the 90’s in the group that killed Clinton’s Health Reform package by deeming it too costly and he has worked for the Fed during both Democratic and Republican administrations.

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