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Entries by Robert Kuttner from 09/2012

What Bernanke Couldn't Quite Say

| Posted 09.02.2012 | Politics

Today, there is so much public infrastructure in disarray, such a crying need to move the nation to a sustainable energy path, and so great a need for the jobs that could be created by large-scale public investments that more stimulus spending should be a no-brainer. But this alternative is not even being seriously debated. Rather Democratic paths to deficit reduction are jousting with Republican paths. So here is Ben Bernanke -- a Republican, first appointed by George W. Bush, a huge admirer of Milton Friedman -- saying what no other Republican and too few Democrats are willing to say: The problem is not the deficit, but the risk that Congress will overreact to the deficit.

Party Animals

| Posted 09.05.2012 | Politics

I've been attending conventions since 1964, when as a student I smuggled floor passes to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party insurgents in Atlantic City. And I've never seen anything as well choreographed and unified as night one of the 2012 convention.

Europe's Latest Gimmick

| Posted 09.09.2012 | World

The EU is now officially back in recession. Unemployment is rising in all of the nations that have submitted to austerity plans. Even the Germans, who benefit from the rest of Europe's pain because capital flight produces very low German interest rates, are headed for a recession later this year, according to the OECD. Europe's economies are prisoners of Merkel's austerity demands on one side, and the speculative attacks of the bond market on the other. In principle, the ECB could extend unlimited support to government bonds, and take the profit out of speculation. Draghi's latest announcement seems to offer just that, but the austerity conditions render it next to useless.

Thank You, Paul Ryan

| Posted 09.16.2012 | Politics

Given the importance of Social Security to regular Americans and its partisan value to Democrats since Franklin Roosevelt, no sane Democrat should be associated with these efforts. But in an age of Citizens United and unlimited corporate donations, where Obama tacks back and forth between criticizing Wall Street and soliciting Wall Street executives for campaign funds, it is all too tempting to demonstrate fiscal "soundness" by joining this parade. Thanks to Paul Ryan, however, the president may be spared again. The association of Romney-Ryan with the gutting of Medicare and Social Security offers just too tempting a political target to throw away for the sake of impressing Simpson, Bowles, and their corporate cronies. Or so we must hope.

Filling Geithner's (Small) Shoes

| Posted 09.23.2012 | Politics

Timothy Geithner has said that he'll step down as Treasury Secretary at the end of Obama's first term. Assuming that Mitt Romney keeps self-destructing and Obama wins a second term, who should succeed him? Just as Obama's choice in 2008 of an economic team led by Larry Summers and Tim Geithner told you a lot about what kind of president he'd be (and not be), Obama will signal a lot in his selection of Geithner's replacement. In an economic crisis, the treasury secretary (tied with the Fed chairman) becomes the most important domestic public official after the president.

Questions for Scott Brown

| Posted 09.30.2012 | Politics

The other image Brown has carefully pursued is that of the last moderate Republican standing. But this is also hogwash, and it is the job of Warren and the press to dispatch that claim. If I were questioning Brown, here are some of the questions I'd ask.