fresh voices from the front lines of change







Today in Washington White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee argued against efforts to boost the economy, saying that the jobs market “is on a trajectory of improvement.” He was probably trying to evoke a reaction using the initials of the President’s slogan “Winning The Future.” Or possibly the non-“reality-based” force-field that the Bush administration had set up around the White House is still turned on.

From the report on Goolsbee’s talk today in The Hill, White House adviser argues against more stimulus,

Despite calls in Congress among Senate Democrats for new stimulus spending, outgoing White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee argued against the idea at a Washington event Friday.

“The government involvement when we’re teetering on the edge of a Great Depression … the government is the primary and in many cases the only engine of recovery. But as you shift to better conditions that is not longer true,” the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers said.

. . . Goolsbee played down a negative jobs report from last week that showed unemployment rising to 9.1 percent, saying the report followed three excellent jobs reports from prior months.

Goolsbee added that in spite of all the signs the rest of us think we see that the economy is terrible, the economy apparently looks good,

“I will simply note that the private sector forecasters and the Fed are saying they expect many of those forces were temporary … and they expect a rebound the second half of this year and going into 2012,” he said. “The labor market remains heavily damaged but is on a trajectory of improvement.”

Meanwhile, out in the somewhat-more-real world, reports of a different way of seeing things. Do more on jobs, Dems tell Obama,

Senior Senate Democrats are growing frustrated by what they see as President Obama’s passivity on the economy, and are beginning to discuss a large infrastructure package funded by tax increases.

. . . “I am concerned about the Obama administration’s approach on this,” Harkin said. “It always has been about jobs. I think the administration kind of got snookered talking about the deficit and the debt after the last election.

“The last election was about jobs and the economy, and now we’re in a position where we really do need some economic pump-priming by the federal government,” he said.

The following is a comment sent to me by Isaiah Poole:

This is not an economy that will heal with a few policy tweaks and some footsie with conservatives. President Obama needs to draw his own line in the sand in the budget negotiations that restart next week in Washington: Putting people back to work comes first. That means no more watching public employees all over the country being tossed out of their jobs, adding to the unemployment rolls, and doing nothing about it. No more negotiating cuts in job training and economic development programs that enable communities that are experiencing depression-level conditions to recover. No more deals that enrich the wealthy and further impoverish middle-class and working-class people.

To be sure, there are millions of people ready to draw that line in the sand themselves. Those who speak for the Obama administration should be the ones leading that crowd rather than the ones being trampled by it.

The White House might argue that you can’t get anything past the Republican House, therefore they shouldn’t try to do anything. But this is a democracy and there is an election coming. The White House has a duty to the public to lay out a plan that contrasts with the plan of the other side, and to fight for it, thereby giving the public the information they need to make a decision. By doing nothing the White House is abrogating its responsibility to govern, and letting a very dangerous crowd gain an advantage in the next election.

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