Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Nickster Handicaps The Midterms & Gives Us The "Trifecta Of Torment"

Looking forward to November's midterms, the Dumbo landslide will produce — according to the Nickster aka Nicholas Kristof — the Trifecta Of Torment: higher unemployment, worse deficits, and greater income inequity. The Dumbo landslide will also produce Senator Witch (Delaware), Senator Libertarian — except for Medicare patients — (Kentuckty), Senator Scientology — one cult deserves another: Latter-Day-Saints — (Nevada), and a Neo-Nazi/Teabagger in Ohio's 9th Congressional District. Here in Texas, this blogger will endure 4 more years(?) of Governor Goodhair. If this is a (fair & balanced) nightmarish future, so be it.

[x San Antonio Fishwrap]
The Dumbo Paul Revere (ca. 2010)
By John Branch

[John Branch has been the editorial cartoonist of the San Antonio Express-News since 1981. He began his career at The Daily Tar Heel at the University of North Carolina in 1975. Branch graduated in 1976 with a degree in studio art, and began drawing for his home town paper, The Chapel Hill Newspaper. His work work has been reprinted in The New York Times, USA Today, Newsweek, and many other publications throughout the country. A member and former officer of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, Branch has publixhed a pair of collections of his work: Would You Buy a Used Cartoon From This Man? (1979) and Out on a Limb (1976).]

Copyright © 2010 John Branch

[x NY Fishwrap]
Trifecta Of Torment
By Nicholas D. Kristof

Tag cloud of the following article

created at

We journalists tend to cover politics the way we cover sports:

Republicans are gaining yardage on their immigration play! The Tea Party is stealing second base! A bench-clearing brawl over health care! Look at the politicians and pundits mud-wrestle!

So let’s try an experiment: Let’s treat this midterm election as if it might actually profoundly shape the well-being of our country.

For starters, look at the Republican accusation that Democrats are killing jobs while leaving the United States deeply indebted. “Democrats continue to double-down on their job-killing policies,” the Republicans say in their "Pledge to America." Rick Scott, the Republican running for governor in Florida, complains that his Democratic opponent “backed the failed stimulus bill, which created debt, not jobs.”

The Republicans start with a fair point: Democrats haven’t delivered what they promised. The unemployment rate rose from 7.7 percent when President Obama took office to more than 10 percent and was still 9.6 percent at last count in August. The Democrats had predicted that unemployment would fall to about 7 percent by now. That was flat wrong.

Chalk one up for the Republicans.

But would they have done better? The Republicans opposed the stimulus package, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that it created between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs.

In other words, under Republican leadership, we would have at least an additional 1.4 million people out of work. As, the indispensable truth squad Web site puts it: “It’s just false to say that the stimulus created ‘no jobs.’ ”

Remember that in the winter of 2008-9, there was talk about another Great Depression. Even the House Republican leader, John Boehner, spoke of the economy being “on the brink.” Now confidence is returning, and the United States has officially moved from recession to (agonizingly slow) recovery.

Some Republicans have other jobs proposals that would create modest numbers of jobs — but many fewer than the stimulus did. Mr. Boehner proposed what he called a job creation plan, but the Economic Policy Institute (which is nonpartisan but admittedly leans Democratic) estimated that it would lead to a net reduction of more than one million jobs.

So, on jobs, the Democrats did poorly, but by most independent accounts, far better than the Republicans would have. Chalk one up for the Democrats.

Then there’s the national debt. The Republicans say, correctly, that Mr. Obama aggravated the debt with the stimulus bill. The latest Congressional Budget Office estimate is that the bill will worsen the deficit by $814 billion over a decade.

But as Andrew Romano, a senior writer for Newsweek, noted in an excellent blog post that helped inspire this column, the Republicans propose other actions that worsen the fiscal situation even more. For starters, the Republicans favor almost $700 billion in extended tax cuts for the most affluent Americans. The Democratic leadership opposes them.

In addition, the Republicans call for repealing the health care reform. The Congressional Budget Office suggests that repealing certain provisions of that act would mean an increase in deficits of about $455 billion. On the other hand, keeping health reform will trim the deficits by more than $170 billion between now and 2020, the C.B.O. says.

There are many other elements in play, but put these big ones together and what do you get, on a comparative basis? The Democrats worsen the deficits by a net of about $640 billion, while Republicans worsen them by some $1.1 trillion — almost twice as much.

Chalk up another one for the Democrats.

There’s a third issue in dispute: which party’s policies are more in keeping with our national values? Republicans suggest that excluding the wealthiest Americans from tax cuts reflects an unpatriotic and divisive effort to foment a class war.

But hold on. There’s a fallacy there. Mr. Obama’s plan wouldn’t actually exclude the wealthiest Americans from tax cuts. It would cut billionaires’ taxes — but only for their first $250,000 in income.

The richest 0.1 percent of Americans (who earn an average of $8.4 million) would get an average tax cut of more than $61,000 under Mr. Obama’s proposal, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Under the Republican proposal, they would get an average tax cut of more than $370,000, the center says.

Thus, the Republican tax cut would lead to an even more gargantuan gap between rich and poor. As Warren Buffett has said: “There’s class warfare, all right. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

I grant that estimates about jobs and revenue are uncertain. But they are not meaningless, and the strong implication is that Republican rule would lead to the Trifecta of Torment: higher unemployment, worse deficits and greater inequity.

That might be more important to ponder this fall than the ups and downs of the mud-wrestling competitions. Ω

[Nicholas D. Kristof writes op-ed columns that appear twice each week in The New York Times. A two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, he previously was associate managing editor of The Times, responsible for the Sunday Times. Kristof graduated from Harvard College and then studied law at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. In 1990 Mr. Kristof and his wife, Sheryl Wu-Dunn, also a Times journalist, won a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of China's Tiananmen Square democracy movement. They were the first married couple to win a Pulitzer for journalism. Mr. Kristof won a second Pulitzer in 2006, for commentary for what the judges called "his graphic, deeply reported columns that, at personal risk, focused attention on genocide in Darfur and that gave voice to the voiceless in other parts of the world." Kristof's most recent book (with wife and co-author, Sheryl Wu-Dunn) is Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (2009).]

Copyright © 2010 The New York Times Company

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