Saturday, March 9, 2013
The Silence From the Right is Deafening
Our stock market had four straight days of record breaking highs and then to top it off; the jobs' report came in Friday showing that our economy added 236,000 last month. The joy from the right was invisible. The lone exception was Jack Welch saying that the president’s regulations are putting a stranglehold on corporate profits. Jack probably doesn’t believe the jobs numbers because somehow President Obama is manipulating them. I’m cautiously optimistic because the stock market was at a high mark just prior to the 2008 financial crisis and besides, Wall Street is borrowing money at such a low interest rate that it would be fiscal malpractice if they weren’t achieving their goals. It’s sad at what could’ve been because the job numbers will surely drop with the sequester cuts.
Mr. Greg Zowarka wrote a blog about the sequester cuts titled “Is the sky really falling?” The short answer to that is no, but it’s nowhere as simple as his mathematical point. His numbers are off because our fiscal budget ends in October, so now we’re making all those cuts and cramming them into seven months, and they weren’t evenly applied across the board. I will concede that the administration hyped up the cuts to make a political point, and that’s wrong. Eliminating waste from the Federal budget should be a daily occurrence but the sequester is the wrong approach because it represents austerity, which will only delay our recovery. You see Mr. Zowarka the answer is one grand bargain using a balanced approach and not the continuing crisis to crisis road we are taking. Right now we need consumers and yes that includes public workers,so laying off people won't help our jobless recovery.
The austerity mindset is prominent at the community level, and it reared its ugly head the other day when a couple of local city council members wanted to turn down a grant to send Washington a message. Another poster said it’s the reason Washington had out of control debt problems. Our country’s debt problem is due to the recession, and federal grants have never been the problem. I don’t know that much about solar energy and that project may not be a good expenditure right now but having a closed mind about accepting federal grants because of ideology is not what our city needs. To pull up a budget from four years ago and saying that servicing the debt has tripled since that time is meant to scare off future expenditures. For example, our own personal mortgage (“which could be viewed as excessive but manageable”) outlays for interest are initially higher, and they gradually go down. I have to agree with Councilman Polasek, the $35 million spent for the Sam Houston and Laurent projects, at today’s cost of material and low interest rates will probably be worthwhile.
Federal grants are an investment in our future, and they don’t have 100% reliability but as I always say, “we should never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” At the local level I think it’s getting a discount for something that we can’t always measure. We’ll always have amateur number crunchers, but it’s a good thing President Eisenhower didn’t listen to them when he built our Federal highway system because we were in a recession when he did that. That project started in 1956 and was supposed to last for 13 years, but it ended in 1991.