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Jon Talton

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

Category: Politics and the economy
January 9, 2015 at 10:10 AM

Vote: How can Congress help the economy

The Republicans that have commanding control of the new Congress hold strong views on the economy. Among them is a conviction that taxes always must be cut and pay for themselves. That regulations must be altered to favor business. That what they consider excesses infringing on “economic freedom” — from the New Deal, Great Society…

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Comments | More in Politics and the economy | Topics: Friday polls, GOP Congress, Keystone XL

December 12, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Vote: Should Obama veto the budget bill?

The budget bill began in shame, with Republicans demanding that Democrats give up clean water legislation and child nutrition in exchange for avoiding a government shutdown. It has degenerated into disgrace. Buried in the legislation is a provision that would begin gutting Dodd-Frank, the post-panic financial regulation bill that the financial industry has already weakened. Now,…

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Comments | More in Politics and the economy | Topics: budget bill, Dodd-Frank, Pensions

November 7, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Vote: Obama and the economy

Here are some fun facts. When Barack Obama became president… The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent on its way to 10 percent. Last month it was 5.8 percent. The federal deficit was $1.4 trillion or almost 10 percent of gross domestic product. Now it’s about $483 billion or 3.3 percent of GDP. The deficit has fallen faster…

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Comments | More in Politics and the economy | Topics: Election 2014, Obama, Obama economy

November 4, 2014 at 10:22 AM

Get ready for more austerity

Much of the media have committed malpractice this campaign by, as usual, focusing on polls, personalities and the horse race. This brings at least two problems. It fails to illuminate the issues and hold candidates accountable for their records and stands. And it can actually dampen turnout if voters for the side the polls predict…

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Comments | More in Politics and the economy | Topics: Austerity, Election 2014

April 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Vote: Are we an oligarchy?

Abraham Lincoln, like many of the Founding Fathers before him, knew that government of the people, by the people and for the people, “dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” was something new in the world, especially for a continental empire. Throughout history, democracies had existed in small places and not for long….

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Comments | More in Politics and the economy | Topics: Citizens United, McCutcheon

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:

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Comments | More in Campaign 2012, Politics and the economy

October 8, 2012 at 10:30 AM

October, beyond the election

Whatever happens in the American electioneering over the next month, here are a few things to watch that touch only peripherally on the campaigns:

1. Slowing in Asia. The World Bank today lowered its growth forecast for East Asia and the Pacific region, chiefly because of China’s ongoing slowdown and lack of effective stimulus. This will have a direct effect on the Pacific Northwest because of our trade dependency on Asia (China is Washington’s No. 1 export destination).

2. The eurozone. Yes, this is getting old, but it’s not getting better. Greece is still in the monetary union, barely. Germany continues to resist more aggressive measures to restart growth. Austerity is causing a deep recession in many eurozone nations. It’s amazing how far they can kick the can down the road. But the best outcome on this trajectory is a long downturn complete with social unrest. The worst: A sudden crisis that causes all the dominoes to fall down.

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Comments | More in China economy and business, Debt ceiling debate, Dollar, Eurozone, Federal Reserve, Interest rates, Macro/Big picture, Oil prices, Outlook, Pacific Northwest economy, Politics and the economy, Stock market

October 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM

You call this an economic debate?

Mitt Romney showed up at the first presidential debate, President Obama didn’t. Like the former private-equity mogul that he is, Romney was willing to say anything to close the deal, whether it was truthful or sincere. Obama was in his passive mode, as if he were still waiting for that one elusive Republican vote in the Senate to pass the Affordable Care Act. The moderator was an embarrassment. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post does a good job unpacking a debate low on specifics, especially from the reborn Republican moderate who did show up.

Aside from Romney’s support for qualified mortgages in Dodd-Frank, neither candidate addressed one of the most critical issues facing the republic: The failure to apply the rule of law to Wall Street and the banking “industry.” Neither called for a 21st century Glass-Steagall. Neither discussed the continued danger the boyz pose to the financial system.

At least we were treated to some sober truth-telling about the economic (and environmental and societal) costs of human-caused climate change and the sensible policy responses required. Oh, wait. That didn’t happen, either. We can have “energy independence” (which means finding a way to keep all the cars running) and the president has been insufficiently solicitous about corporate welfare for greenhouse-gas emitters.

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Comments | More in Politics and the economy

October 3, 2012 at 10:40 AM

A few economic questions that ought to be asked tonight

Here are some economy related questions for the presidential debates that probably won’t be asked, but should:

For President Obama:

Mr. President, why is it that your Justice Department has not prosecuted a single major banking executive connected to the financial crisis, despite compelling evidence from congressional hearings and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission chaired by Phil Angelides?

For Governor Romney:

Governor, you suggested that General Motors and Chrysler should go bankrupt. While you made some good points about management and shareholders being held accountable, there was no private capital available in 2008-2009 to provide a “managed bankruptcy.” The automakers, along with hundreds of suppliers, would have been closed and their assets liquidated. Do you still believe that Presidents Bush and Obama made a mistake by intervening to save Detroit?

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Comments | More in Politics and the economy

September 25, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Inslee, McKenna and the economic debate

I despise the false-equivalency of “both sides do it” journalism, but in reading about the economic debate between gubernatorial candidates Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna, I say both sides to make important points.

Inslee is correct to focus on enhancing the clusters most important to the state: Clean energy, aerospace, life sciences, agriculture, information technology, military and maritime. A B&O tax credit for small businesses that hire people is also worth a look. McKenna is wise to want to emphasize funding education and push for paring back regulations that hurt job creation.

The reality is that if low taxes and “light” regulation were the key to economic success, then Mississippi would be Singapore. If all state government had to do was “get out of the way,” then Boeing, for example, would probably have built the Dreamliner elsewhere. State government must do many things well in partnership with business.

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Comments | More in Aerospace/Boeing, Politics and the economy, Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, State fiscal conditions

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