The greatest danger currently facing all of us in America, and particularly progressives, is one of drift. As an economy, the United States is drifting along a low-growth path that is acclimatizing all of us to levels of unemployment which only a decade ago would have been treated as an outrage. As a society, the United States is drifting towards levels of income and wealth inequality so large that, if left unchallenged, will soon become irreversible. And as a political system, the United States is drifting towards a Republican sweep of both the House and the Senate in November unless the democratic left acts now to reverse what is in truth a carefully orchestrated and heavily funded great moving right show. Those of us of a progressive predisposition are drifting towards a political defeat of historic proportions -- one underpinned by an economic and social settlement of a highly conservative kind -- and we are doing so with what would appear to be only the slightest sense of alarm.
We have just heard from new Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen in her first official speech entitled, What the Federal Reserve is Doing to Promo...
No politician these days gets any traction from the exploitation of bad news, unless he/she is currently out of power and, like the GOP, trying to work their way back in. Democratic presidents concerned with their legacy are not in that position; which is why all we can legitimately expect of any State of the Union Address these days is some sort of claim for progress in the immediate past, plus an equivalent case for more progress in the year to come. That, in truth, is most of what we heard from President Obama on Tuesday evening. Fine rhetoric well delivered, mildly progressive goals modestly pursued, and a strong statement of the continuing importance of American exceptionalism and American power. But just because a president cannot do a full and honest stock-taking of our overall condition, that doesn't mean that we shouldn't.
It's the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at this writing. That means that it's the day in which we can return to forgetting about Dr. King's values or we can take a new stride in making Kingian principles tangible.
Something is horribly wrong with both America's employment situation and with the way we measure it. In case you missed the news, the economy generated just 74,000 payroll jobs in December, but the unemployment rate dropped by three tenths of a percentage point, from 7.0 percent to 6.7 percent. How can that be? Simple: more and more people have just given up looking for work. The percentage of prime age people in the active work force is now just 62.8 percent, the lowest since 1978, a time when far fewer women worked . And the proportion of long term unemployed remains stuck at historic highs.
I would be dissatisfied with a society in which middle-class and lower-middle-class earners have no chance to better themselves. In my opinion, the opportunity for self-improvement is a fundamental human right. What's more, it's not just those individuals who lose out. When social mobility denied to any group, society loses a vast talent pool filled with people who could make things better for everyone.
The task before us in 2014 is nothing less than to find a route back to generalized prosperity amid the wreckage left in place by the collapse of the Reagan growth model and the rise of the globalized economy. The debate now underway about the relationship between full employment and income inequality is vital because progressives have to find -- and find quickly -- a set of economic policies that can credibly refute the sustained attempt by the GOP to take us back to the future. From conservative circles, we now face a coordinated campaign to intensify income inequality, to erode the welfare safety net, to undermine public services and to weaken still further already weak labor unions. For moral as well as for economic reasons, progressives have to challenge this conservative renaissance by developing a political program that explicitly and proudly combines job creation and inequality reduction, one that insists on greater income equality as the route to full employment.
Paul Krugman's recent call to raise the minimum wage is consistent with much of his liberal political writing over the past decade. But raising the minimum wage is not consistent with Krugman's writing as an economist.
All the reasons are there for an increase in minimum wage. It's good for the economy. It's good for workers and for business. It's good for social mobility, and it's good for the American Dream. What a patriotic policy, then, and how fitting for the nation's capital to consider it. Let's hope D.C. implements it and soon.
Two weeks ago, the IMF organized a major research conference, in honor of Stanley Fischer, on lessons from the crisis. Here is my take.
While we applaud Senator Warren and Paul Krugman for their unequivocal stance not to cut but to expand the benefits of social security, we believe we can be much bolder.
Many progressives will no doubt say that I'm being unfair to the Keynesians, and that they too would favor an investment strategy if the Republicans didn't block them. I hope that's true. Yet Keynesian stimulus repeatedly takes our eyes off the long term.
At this pivotal moment, progressives should not leave the messaging battle about the ACA to right wingers and Obama loyalists. While critiquing the law for its entanglement with the profit-voracious insurance industry, we should fight for quality healthcare for everyone
I never thought I'd imply that Paul Krugman could be wrong. But when my mother in New Jersey voiced relief that Ohio was doing so much to help the poor after reading his column or another story, I knew some explanation was needed.
Paul Krugman has a piece up today about how Germany's large and persistent trade surpluses play an important, destructive role in the slump in the rest of the Euro area -- essentially, they import much-needed labor demand from the rest of the zone.
Our democracy thrives on a vibrant two party system. We have endured with it before and we need it restored again, something I am sure serious Democrats would welcome.