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    To me Purple People are those of us who are neither Republican Red nor Democrat Blue; we find ourselves in between. The internet often represents those on the far left or the far right; this site is for those of us in the middle.

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Obama Using McCain’s Ideas

As a staunch McCain supporter I’m over the defeat; that is except when the Obama administration attempts to use parts of the McCain platform that they previously criticized. When the Obama administration followed the McCain plan in their Iraq and Afghanistan I was relieved. They weren’t as reckless as their campaign statements made them appear. Also, I have to give them a gamesmanship points (even if they lose honesty points) for completely sticking it to the far left without making them angry. Yet the annoyance started when Obama used the McCain rhetoric about the economy without including all that pesky fiscal discipline. The statements post stimulus about strong economic fundamentals were practically verbatim what Senator McCain said during the election. Now health care is on the table and so is taxing employer based health insurance. Remember Obama campaign ads revolved around the idea that this was a terrible plan for Senator McCain to propose. Now it apparently is not such a bad idea. What makes it worse is that in the McCain plan there was a $5000 tax credit that would have off-set the tax. There will be no tax credit with the Democrat’s plan, so any tax assessed is coming right out of your pocket. I’ll get over the annoyance, but if the Obama administration keeps adapting McCain ideas the least they could do is adopt his fiscal discipline (and math skills) too.

7 Responses

  1. My best advice to get our country out of unemployment would be for those seeking work to go after the new jobs being created by Obama’s stimulus program. There are supposed to be at least 3 million jobs created; specifically, a huge amount of temporary and permanent positions are being created for the 2010 census. A non-profit organization is giving out scholarships to the first 1 millions users to sign up for their course packages, which are specifically tailored to these new stimulus jobs. I signed up last week for the census package and I only had to pay 25 dollars, with my scholarship covering the other $775. I plan on finishing my course within the next month so that I can add to my resume that I have completed a census training package… I feel like this would put me above most other applicants.
    The website is http://www.nefuniversity.org/scholarship and I think it’s definitely worth checking out.


    The stimulus plan in of itself has halted the dramatic plunge in business and consumer confidence with the very likely threat of an economic depression earlier in the year, and businesses and consumers taking a less weary and more upbeat attitude to the future. Maybe more than anything else this will be the most significant impact of the stimulus package in the long-run enabling a spectacular recovery from the real possibility of depression before its passage. Businesses and consumers have become more and more confident that spending from the stimulus in the upcoming months will provide a solid environment for economic activity thus encouraging investment, reducing the pace of job losses and encouraging consumer spending. In other words, the stimulus package has avoided “a cycle of economic downturn to depression” and is now about to engender “a cycle of economic upturn to recovery”.

    The stimulus package cash handouts and other social initiatives have played no minor part in lessening the burdens on individuals of the economic downturn and the consequent increase in the number of people unemployed thus palliating the effects with regards to mortgage, health coverage and consumer spending.

    The stimulus package has halted the lost of jobs in the areas of education and other state level services and enabled States to avoid budget bankruptcy (caused by the fall in revenues due to the economic downturn) with the result of avoiding indirect job losses in the private sector as well.

    The stimulus package is bound to lead the way for new jobs creation to be followed suit by direct private sector investments with the consequence of increasing spending in the economy and accelerating economic recovery. It should be noted that jobs created by the stimulus will have a multiplier effect in the creation of jobs by private enterprises.

    Perhaps more fundamental for long-term economic recovery, given the areas of investment of the stimulus package (infrastructure, energy and green jobs, education. etc.), it is the type of government investment required for renewing long-term economic growth. As was the case with FDR’s New Deal in the 1930s and Eisenhower building of interstate highways and investment in the sciences in the 1950s, the stimulus package is bound to restructure the foundation of the US economy within which private enterprise will thrive.

    The fundamental element in the criticisms levied against the stimulus package that it will increase the US deficit is the total disregard by most critics of what would have happened without the stimulus with respect to avoiding the real threat of a depression, raising business and consumer confidence and restructuring the economy. Thus providing a good foundation for real growth in the long-run (boostered by the Stimulus and led by private enterprise) with economic growth by itself and healthcare reform allowing for deficit reduction in the long-run.

    While the Stimulus Package has often come under this one-sided criticism of increasing the US deficit, such an argument can only be credible to the extent that it elicits how the results mentioned above which have been obtained (and are to be obtained) by the Stimulus Package could have been attained otherwise. Most critics of the stimulus package seem to think that this economy which was at the very brink of collapse simply avoided a depression by some miracle and that by the same token recovery is bound to occur by magic. To the extent that their arguments fail to answer these fundamental facts about avoiding a depression and beginning a recovery, to that extent, such arguments can hardly be considered credible.

    Actually, the initial impact of the stimulus for private enterprise and consumer confidence has been “anticipatory” in that it arrested a situation where the trend of business and consumer confidence was heading the economy to a depression. That is why the statistics point to the fact that business and consumer confidence stop plunging after the stimulus plan was passed and the stock market has been “going north” since then. It is the anticipation of the impact of the stimulus plan that has stabilized business and consumer confidence, heading off the real prospect of a depression. In other words, the stimulus package first impact was to act as the brakes for an economy that was heading to a depression disaster.

    http://www.rususa.com/money/finance.asp See link above for the effect of the stimulus plan on the stock market immediately after its passage in mid-February 2009: the NASDAQ, Dow Jones and S & P 500 have made a dramatic U-turn upward since March 2009.

    The reason for the high job losses is very simple. Those jobs were going to be lost anyway as business and consumer confidence entered a vicious cycle to depression following the failure of the financial system - these job losses arose out of lack of confidence in the financial system. Actually, the stimulus role at the onset more than any immediate spending in the economy itself has been to provide assurance to consumers and businesses that government will spend in the economy thereby upholding consumer and business confidence and avoiding the real prospect of a depression. So the stimulus first role has been “anticipatory” in forestalling a depression.

    Believe it or not, it is not out of the question that without the stimulus plan we might have been talking now about the loss of not 1.6 million jobs but 5 or 6 million jobs at the trend at which consumer and business confidence went on falling before its passage. See link on the rise of consumer confidence since the stimulus plan was passed in mid-February 2009.

    Actually, the word “stimulus” here can be misleading in that it underemphasizes the effect of the stimulus in arresting a grave and downward spiral of the economy and rather draw focus mainly on creation of jobs which is the second and yet to fully come dimension of its impact.

    Let’s imagine that the stimulus plan was to be suspended now. What will happen is that the anticipation consumers and business had about its boosting effect on the economy will die out, and this of itself will create uncertainty and may well lead to a new downward spiral. The Stimulus has a double effect with respect to recovery and job creation. Perhaps the lesser acknowledged effect is the confidence created in the economy for private enterprise and consumer consumption. In fact, this indirect effect will be the strongest push for economic recovery and job creation. Then there is the direct effect of the Stimulus Package spending and its multiplier effect given the areas of expenditure (education, infrastructure, green jobs, etc.)

    While critics are pointing to the fact that unemployment is already at 9.4 percent compared to the prediction of 8.8 percent for 2010 made by the Administration, many forget that Economics like Meteorology or Earthquake Prediction for that matter is “no Physics or Maths”. What ultimately matters is the bigger picture and trends. Going by the job loss figures for March, April and May (652000, 504000 and 345000 respectively) the argument made by the administration definitely holds. In fact, the Fed, the Treasury as well as other institutions involved in the prediction of economic data tend to revise their figures quite often. What matters is the trend and bigger picture. See link http://data.bls.gov/PDQ/servlet/SurveyOutputServlet?data_tool=latest_numbers&series_id=CES0000000001&output_view=net_1mth.

    The Stimulus is rather like a project but in this instance a massive and complex national project. A project can be broken down in two broad categories: design and execution. At the design stage (the first few months of the Stimulus), everything is being organised and put in place administratively with relatively little being carried out. The upcoming months will be the period when the massive spending and investments will be executed at an exponential rate. In fact, 1 billion dollar is already being allocated each day for Stimulus projects.

    In layman’s terms, the Stimulus is needed for the simple reason that with the failure of the financial system, businesses and consumers were less willing (uncertainty) and less able (banks failures and failure to provide credit) to produce and spend in the economy implying that companies sold less goods and services than usual and so the companies had to lay out workers who in turn bought less and so the cycle goes (and this might just as well have led to a depression).

    What the stimulus is meant to do, and is doing, is to incite and give businesses and consumers the confidence to keep on producing and spending respectively for the upcoming spending in the economy it is to generate exponentially. Initially by giving tax breaks, benefits, spending to maintain teaching and social services jobs and then spending on stimulus projects contracts given to companies which are then encouraged not to lay off workers. All these with the consequent multiplier effect in the economy.

    Companies and consumers effectively bought to this idea once the Stimulus bill was enacted and kept on producing and consuming respectively in anticipation that upcoming Stimulus spending will maintain a stable economic environment from which recovery is possible. Hence the reason why the stock market and consumer and business confidence started rising. This effort was accompanied by the bank bailout and efforts to provide credit to consumers and companies.

    It is effectively because the Stimulus Package is real, a commitment of 787 billion dollars by the US government for real economic projects, that consumers and businesses bought to the scheme and started acting in a positive manner in anticipation of its positive impact in the upcoming months (the Stimulus Package direct impact should enter in full force by the fourth quarter). In fact, many economists have even argued that the amount provided for the Stimulus should have been much more higher.

    I’ll argue that irrespective of party creed, it will seem to me that the criticism levied against the Stimulus is much more of a “political vogue” (and has nothing to do with “realistic” economics) naïvely taken up by the media which tend to operate on the basis of “two sides to any story” (not a criticism though). The milestone which any such critical arguments has to overcome is to answer the question: how could a depression be avoided and a recovery started following the failure of the financial system?

    The stimulus is rather the impetus for the overall economic agenda advanced by the Obama Administration and is meant to arrest the downward spiral of the economy and create a new basis on which the the US economy will be rebuilt for the upcoming years (not only the next 2 years).

    The goal here is to move away from an economic model which has been based on speculation and credit indebtedness as was the case in the last few years (following the deregulatory policies started during the Clinton Administration) culminating into the mortgage crisis and the failure of the financial system.

    The Obama Administration’s economic model is meant to refocus the economy on real growth. The government will provide the impetus for the new economic model by initiating policies meant to: better regulate the financial system to encourage real/productive and not speculative enterprise, reign on the culture of credit indebtedness (by enterprises and individuals), revamp education (for a more competitive economy based on a better qualified workforce), bring about a more energy efficient and independent economy with green jobs, bring down health care costs in order to lessen the burden on individuals and enterprises and provide universal coverage, and finally control deficits through economic growth and reigning down on health care costs (with pay-as-you-go as the future approach to public spending).

    You will certainly notice that the stimulus spending is more or less continuous with this economic agenda.

  3. Thank you for such a well thought out comment/post. While you make good points I’m not convinced about how helpful the stimulus has been. I’m glad to see the infrastructure improvements along with the jobs they create. Yet this this bill was stuffed with pork that will all have to be paid at some point. It could give us problems with inflation, slow long term recovery, and complicate our relationship with China.

    I am concerned that job loss has no stopped yet was predicted, and I am concerned with the administration’s math. They recently stated that they would be able to create 600,00 new jobs in three months. Yet when asked about what their pay out rate would be over the three months they couldn’t say. That seems troubling as it sounds like they aren’t using a mathematical formula, but are picking numbers instead. The fact that they are including summer jobs in that 600,000 number isn’t comforting either, as those jobs aren’t going to effect much long term recovery.

    I certainly see why anti-stimulus talk may sound like simple party politics. Yet my complaint is that isn’t that there was a stimulus, it’s that this stimulus was packed with pork, and that the projections used at that time and now are highly suspect.

  4. Hi Kmorrison33, I get the point of your argument with regards to Obama economic agenda and stimulus plan. I think what most critics miss out is the bigger picture and the fundamental problem of the US economy which has been speculation and credit indebtedness. The stimulus has the added goal of providing the impetus for an economy grounded on real growth rather than speculation, providing a new framework within which private enterprise will strive.

    Going by the economic trends (job losses, consumer confidence), it is obvious that we are in a much more better position today than when the financial crisis began. However, when talking of the detail figures advanced by the Administration, we can easily lose sight of the fact that economics is not an exact science like mathematics. What matters is the trends and bigger picture. As pointed above, even non-political economic institutions like the FED tend to revise their figures all along the year. What is important is the trend. Even then, there is nothing that say that by 2010 (given the falling trend in job losses), unemployment will not drop to 8.8 or even lower.

    The 600000 number advanced is simply a direct objective with regards to stimulus spending. In any case, the impact of the stimulus will be more than just the direct jobs created but will principally be in its effect as a catalyst for private enterprise and indirect job creation in the long-run.

    With respect to spending the Obama Administration had two choices: either to fast-track the US out of a recession and avoid the real possibility of a depression or do nothing and expect that by some magic the economy will regain confidence and recover on its own. He made the political choice of the former with the stimulus plan. The prok criticism ignore the fact that a large part of the spending is meant to provide impetus for the Administration’s long term economic agenda based on revamping education, health care, energy efficiency and independence, and infrastructure.

  5. I’m in complete agreement with you on cleaning up and creating proper regulations for the credit markets. One mistake I think conservatives make discussing the bailouts is not diliniating the difference between the first round that shored up banking sector, and subsequent bailouts (i.e. I’m not sure the government should be in the auto business).

    Yet I disagree that the alternative to the stimulus would have been no stimulus at all. Senator McCain along with other Republican Senators put together a stimulus plan that had a lower price tag. Senator McConnell, who wasn’t part of that plan, also showed willingness to work on a plan that as President Obama initially stated should be ‘timely, targetted and temporary.’ I do empathize with President Obama on the stimulus to some extent, because Nancy Pelosi I think stuck him with a bad pork laden bill right out of the gate. However, in the end he signed on and I am concerned that that bill will come back to bite us.

  6. Quite interesting debate. I guess being more liberal I am inclined to perceive and evaluate the stimulus from a liberal perspective. Maybe I’m less prone to see pork where a conservative will find one. I might just mention in passing that flu pandemic prevention spending in the stimulus was qualified as pork and vetoed only for a subsequent bill to be passed after the Mexico Swine flu outbreak. In any case I certainly share the view that deficit control should be a long term goal for all future US administrations.

  7. Good point, I trend somewhat libertarian so I am coming from the perspective that governement tends to be wasteful in inefficient, and we likely see the role governement differently. Yet I’m not idealogue, but more of a ‘how will it work’ type, and think the debate is sometimes as important as the answer.

    It’s been nice having this discussion with you - Thanks.

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