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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

Category: Campaign 2012
October 19, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Vote: Presidential economic issues

I’m not interested in how you intend to vote. We have too many polls already. Today’s poll has more to do with which candidate is making, or failing, at economic issues. Under normal circumstances, this should be an economic election, with growth still slow and unemployment high. Yet it’s close.

Maybe enough Americans give President Obama credit for averting a second Great Depression. Maybe many are wary of Mitt Romney because of his shape-shifting, the hard dogma of the right and his history not as a “businessman” but as a private-equity guy. In other words, an emblem of the financialization of America and the crash — and he’s offering more Bush policies of tax cuts and deregulation.

So, a couple of angles (you can make multiple selections):

The most effective arguments

What worries me

Read on for the links of the week and the haiku:


Comments | More in Campaign 2012, Politics and the economy

September 14, 2012 at 10:05 AM

Vote: Are you better off than 4 years ago?

This is the question that Ronald Reagan used to devastating effect against Jimmy Carter in 1980, when inflation was nearly 14 percent and interest rates were around 21 percent. This time, the question is not so simple, as the New York Times pointed out. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post considers it a dumb campaign question.

Four years ago, the world financial system was headed into meltdown. Actions by the Bush and Obama administrations, as well as the Federal Reserve, prevented a new great depression. The Obama stimulus also worked to keep the collapse from being much worse. The remains of the safety net and the FDIC, put in place beginning with the New Deal, prevented financial ruin for many millions.

On the other hand, saving the banks didn’t bring financial reform. The banksters got away with it. The 30-year slide of the middle class has continued even as the plutocracy has gained even more political power. The Military-Industrial Complex and national security state are even more entrenched. For all this, the Republican Party has nominated a feckless character who has supported any position to “close the deal” and this week showed himself profoundly unprepared for the presidency (his “Lehman moment”).

So I’ll try to keep the poll simple. And you have the comments section to vent your spleen and say how I don’t know Econ 101. Constructive comments would be welcome, too.

Are you personally better off now than 4 years ago

Read on for the best links of the week and the haiku:


Comments | More in ALEC corporate support, Bailout, Banking, Campaign 2012, Politics and the economy

September 7, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Vote: Obama and the economy

The Democrats put on a good show in Charlotte, especially former President Bill Clinton’s speech. President Obama, who already knew today’s weak jobs numbers when he took the podium Thursday night, gave a cautious speech. His essential plea, like Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s, was “stay the course.” I suspect few minds were changed in our polarized nation.

To Obama’s credit, the collapse he inherited was arrested and many aspects of the economy have rebounded. He faced a united opposition whose first priority was his defeat. But 12.8 million remain unemployed, and far too little mention of this was made at the DNC. What’s the plan to address it? To his discredit, his Justice Department let the banksters get away with it. The Too Big To Exist banks are larger than ever. The stimulus was too small and poorly aimed. As the Atlantic puts it, the choice is “between Obama’s weak record and Romney’s worse alternative.” Of course, many will disagree and line up behind Romney.

So: The Friday poll:

Did Obama sell you on the economy?

Read on for the best links of the week and the haiku.


Comments | More in Campaign 2012, Politics and the economy

August 31, 2012 at 9:40 AM

Vote: Romney and the economy

Conventions once had drama and tension. Now they’re mere television extravaganzas, the outcome predetermined. But then again, once it was considered unseemly for someone to personally campaign for the presidency. Anyway, my question is whether Mitt Romney convinced you he would be more effective on economic issues than the incumbent?

Now, Democrats won’t vote for him for a variety of issues. Conservatives may line up in the usual disciplined fashion, but many doubt whether Governor Etch A Sketch is really one of them. Social issues will attract Romney votes no matter his economic promises or possibilities. I want to focus on the economy alone. Here, his challenge is to 1) Convince the electorate that a reboot of George W. Bush’s policies will work this time, despite abundant evidence that they failed disastrously in the ’00s, and 2) Move beyond his embodiment of the finance capitalism that is so unpopular.

Did Romney sell you on his economics

Read on for the best links of the week and the haiku:


Comments | More in Campaign 2012, Politics and the economy

August 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM

The Republicans’ economic challenge

In 1932, with the Great Depression at its worst, the Republicans lost the White House and didn’t win it back again for 20 years. The GOP ran a reactionary platform against FDR in 1936 and, even with the economy still ailing, was crushed. When the party regained the presidency, it was with Dwight Eisenhower, who famously wrote, “Should any political party attempt to abolish Social Security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes that you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

Fast forward. The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression produced a huge anti-GOP vote in 2008, even though the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama was inexperienced and largely untested. But thanks to the Tea Party, Republicans bounced back strongly two years later. Now the party has a good chance to retake the White House this year.

Now, the GOP base is ultra-solid. Mitt Romney leads President Obama among white voters by an astonishing 55 percent to 39 percent. Maybe this is enough, especially when bolstered by super PAC money and lies such as the one that claims Mr. Obama has loosened welfare requirements. But for the reality-based community, Republicans face a challenge running on the economy as they gather for their convention in Tampa.


Comments | More in Campaign 2012, Politics and the economy

June 8, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Vote: Fix the economy now

The economy is near stall speed, no matter what Ben Bernanke says. The Obama stimulus was too small to fill the demand hole left by the Great Recession. It was poorly aimed and now is running out, and the reality is that Obama has presided over one of the lowest-spending terms over the past 60 years. Government cutbacks are a further headwind to recovery (something Reagan didn’t face in 1982).

Unemployment remains high and growth is slowing. Most people think we’re still in a recession. Europe is in a recession and threatening to bring the world into a deep downturn. The GOP House and minority in the Senate will resist any measures to move the economy forward — at least until President Romney is sworn in. So welcome to the next few months.

What would you do to fix it?

The most important need now:

Read on for the best links of the week and the haiku:


Comments | More in Campaign 2012, Debt, Deficit, Eurozone, Federal Reserve, Great Recession, Great reset, Income/living standards, Infrastructure, Jobs/Unemployment

April 20, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Vote: What econ issue should be No. 1 in the campaign

When the Hilary Rosen “Ann Romney’s never worked a day in her life” kerfuffle erupted, somebody at Talking Points Memo commented, “Welcome to the next seven months.” Yes, many bright shiny irrelevancies will be competing for the short attention span of Americans. Really, really important things, such as climate change and our utter lack of preparation for a high-cost energy future won’t be discussed at all.

Will this election turn on the economy? History and common sense says it should, although the never underestimate the power of “God, guns and gays” to overpower “It’s the economy, stupid.” What do you think should get the most attention of the candidates and, gasp, a serious national discussion in the presidential campaign:

The top economic issue for the candidates:

Read on for the best links of the week and the haiku:


Comments | More in Campaign 2012, Politics and the economy