Howls from the The Progressive Wilderness

bailoutI continue to be amazed by the number of progressive bloggers that are rationalizing their votes for Obama while experiencing one jaw-dropping Obama appointment after another.  Today, I read David Sirota’s addendum to the latest progressive hissy-fit.  That is, it must be we haven’t had enough hissy-fits because the one is obviously not listening to us.  Read it all here.

Did Obama really run on a progressive agenda?  If you’ve read any of us Cassandras on The Confluence or other Puma places, you’ll see that we’ve been saying he’s not a progressive for a long time.  My favorite description of the one is opportunistic chameleon.  Let’s face it progressives, ever since you were had on FISA, the one realized it wasn’t his platform but his hopey changey say nothing of substance speeches that would get him elected.  Why would you think that would change now? 


I don’t find it the least bit odd that the criticism of the newly appointed Obama team isn’t coming from Republicans.  Every Republican talking head from Karl Rove on down has been talking about the wondrous Team Obama.  These appointments were evident back in the primary days.  The Wall Street money was going to the Obama campaign from the very beginning. Where were you all when I was going on about Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee?  Here’s an example from Sirota’s rationalization-du-jour.

The “rivalry” is between the positions/ideology of the appointees and the positions/ideology Obama explicitly campaigned on.

For instance, the “rivalry” isn’t between Bob Rubin proteges Larry Summers and Tim Geithner on economic policy – it is between Summers and Geithner the ideological deregulators and Obama’s promises to better regulate Wall Street. Likewise, the “rivalry” isn’t between Hillary Clinton and the other “hawks” on the foreign policy team, it is between Clinton who bashed Obama’s proposalsfor more diplomacy with enemies and Obama’s promises to diplomatically reach out to enemy nations.

I remember the entire gang at FDL trying to roast me over an open flame when I kept saying you’re listening to campaign rhetoric and not watching the greater game.  Remember, the greater game included Susan Rice’s antics (ignore the man behind the curtain, he’s just saying that)  and Furman’s antics (oh, canada, that’s just campaign speech on NAFTA, ignore the man behind the curtain).  Now you’re amazed that it was just rhetoric?  Please!  Don’t tell me you’re REALLY that stupid?  It seems to me they were much more in love with the idea of a black progressive president on the mirror’s side of wonderland.

Meanwhile, the true economic progressive blogs are saying that the Obama Team is really not thinking big enough.  I’m not the least bit surprised that the latest rumor is that Obama just wants the Bush Tax cuts to run their course.  So let me give you some quotes Harvard Economist and Bush adviser Greg Mankiw offers up from Team Obama on economic policy.

Expecting Regulation of exotic mortgage derivatives?   Here’s on from Goolsbee basically implying that progressives shouldn’t hold their breaths.

When Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, gave his opening statement last week at the hearings lambasting the rise of “risky exotic and subprime mortgages,” he was actually tapping into a very old vein of suspicion against innovations in the mortgage market…..Congress is contemplating a serious tightening of regulations to make the new forms of lending more difficult. New research from some of the leading housing economists in the country, however, examines the long history of mortgage market innovations and suggests that regulators should be mindful of the potential downside in tightening too much.

Austan Goolsbee

How about some nice juicy taxes on those uberrich folks or maybe some nice government spending stimulus?  Here’s Christine Romer (with and without her economist husband).

Tax changes have very large effects on output. Our baseline specification suggests that an exogenous tax increase of one percent of GDP lowers real GDP by roughly three percent.

Christina Romer (writing with husband David)

Given the key roles of monetary contraction and the gold standard in causing the Great Depression, it is not surprising that currency devaluations and monetary expansion became the leading sources of recovery throughout the world….the new spending programs initiated by the New Deal had little direct expansionary effect on the economy.

Christina Romer

Expecting Team Obama to be Union friendly and open to things like making unemployment benefits behave like better safety nets? Not so fast,  here’s the lovely Larry Summers:

Unemployment insurance also extends the time a person stays off the job. Clark and I estimated that the existence of unemployment insurance almost doubles the number of unemployment spells lasting more than three months. If unemployment insurance were eliminated, the unemployment rate would drop by more than half a percentage point, which means that the number of unemployed people would fall by about 750,000. This is all the more significant in light of the fact that less than half of the unemployed receive insurance benefits, largely because many have not worked enough to qualify.

Another cause of long-term unemployment is unionization. High union wages that exceed the competitive market rate are likely to cause job losses in the unionized sector of the economy. Also, those who lose high-wage union jobs are often reluctant to accept alternative low-wage employment. Between 1970 and 1985, for example, a state with a 20 percent unionization rate, approximately the average for the fifty states and the District of Columbia, experienced an unemployment rate that was 1.2 percentage points higher than that of a hypothetical state that had no unions.

Larry Summers

As Riverdaughter and most writers on The Confluence have pointed out over and over again, these folks were around during the primary so wtf did you all expect?  Sorry, David, there’s always been a canyon between what Obama says and what he does.  I just wish you’d have noticed it sooner.

2 Comments on “Howls from the The Progressive Wilderness”

  1. johninca says:

    Hi Dakinikat. Enjoyed listening to you on those radio shows– very soothing voice, plus a professional grasp of your subject.

    I think it’s nuts to talk of progressive social programs when we’re trillions in debt and still digging a hole. Nobody can run their private life like that.

    However, if we must have spending, let it be on infrastructure and things like that, which put people to work and actually benefit the public.

  2. dakinikat says:

    thx john, and yes, exactly, spending should be on infrastructure and things like that