On MSNBC Right Now... As Always, Much More to Say than I Could...

Berkeley png

2019-04-05 12:30 PM PST: Ali Velshi: MSNBC Live



I bring you greetings from Laura Tyson, whose office I was hanging out here for an hour or so this morning.

The background is a green-screened one:

  • That is not what it looks like here right now.
  • It is a very grey, rainy, foggy day—the latest in more than a month of storms that have come down on us from the north.
  • This is the first time in my life Berkeley has had this early-spring weather pattern
  • Global warming is going to be much more than just the-climate-marches-north-by-three-miles-a-year and we need stronger air conditioners.


The Obama Administration and Its Misperceptions

The Obama administration had a belief that cleverly regulating markets lightly could achieve the social democratic ends of strong and equitable growth

The Obama administration saw three reasons:

  1. The policies would work.
  2. The policies would be durable and well-implemented because they would be acceptable to sensible Republicans.
  3. The policies could be enacted in a straightforward fashion by broad bipartisan political coalitions.

All three of these reasons have been proved false:

  • There are no broad bipartisan political coalitions. *Mitt Romney would not support Mitt Romney’s own health care plan when Obama proposed it as the Affordable Care Act.

    • John McCain would not support his own global-warming control plan when Obama proposed in the form of cap-and-trade.
    • George H.W. Bush would not support his own entitlement-cutting-and-financing plans when Obama—to the horror of not only left but centrist Democrats—proposed them as a grand bargain with John Boehner.
    • The wreck that Republican federal and state legislators and corrupt partisan judges have made of affordable care act implementation he still a wonder to behold.
  • Back to my first point: Market friendly policies work a lot less well than I thought they would.

    • Relying on the Federal Reserve rather than on boosting government purchases to do the bulk of the work of economic recovery in the early 2010s was a disaster.
    • In a well-run society the top executives of Perdue pharmaceuticals should now be in jail for life for how they responded the market forces by addicting Americans to Oxycontin.
  • It is a very different world in the world I thought years ago that I lived in.

Thus those of us who have pushed for lightly and cleverly regulating markets to achieve the social democratic ends of strong and equitable growth need to:

  1. wake up,
  2. recognize that the world is not as we thought it was,
  3. adjust.

That is all.



Paul Krugman says: you may only be getting here now, but I have been here waiting for you for a decade.

Bob Reich says that you may only be getting here now, but I have been here waiting for you for more than a quarter century.

Laura Tyson notes that the Clinton administration was different from the Obama administration:

  • The left wing of the Clinton administration was people like Peter Edelman, Bob Reich, Joe Stieglitz, and Laura Tyson.
  • By contrast, the left wing of the Obama administration was made up of people like Christina Romer and Larry Summers
    • And they were both gone after two years, and not replaced.


Ah. Ross Douthat

Douthat: "DeLong thread didn’t take up that possibility. It degenerated, instead, into a howl against Republican fascism and a post-Protestant sermon about how liberal America can build the true and only heaven, the real shining city on the hill. Which suggests that to reckon with the possibility that making liberalism a pseudo-church might be a problem, not an aspiration, we need a very different center-left from the one surrendering today..."

I really do not know how to take this:

  • I wrote "pass the baton" not "surrender". Douthat knows what I wrote.
  • The phrase "true and only heaven" does not appear in what I wrote. Douthat knows that.
  • The part Douthat is paraphrasing is : "In the center and on the left we fight it with the opposed "Massachusetts" picture of American nationalism—a community engaged in an Errand Unto the Wilderness to build a Utopia that will be a City Upon a Hill, and we are all in this together with no special authorities or leaders because of the Priesthood of All Believers. Never mind that John Winthrop would run screaming from us: we are his children..."
  • To attempt to build a Utopia—to make it so that people in the future will say "may it be as it was in New-England" is, John Winthrop would say, not an impious but a pious exercise.
  • It is profoundly unAmerican for Douthat to pretend that there is something wrong with it.

Douthat: "The center-left’s signal political failure was that it never really sought to preserve a cultural centrism, which meant over time that its party’s approach to social issues has been dictated more and more completely by the left..."

Here we have something that is less offensvie and less allusive, so we can sink our teeth into it.

It is, however, very bloodless, very measured. Let's unpack it:

  • You are all—notionally—looking at San Francisco, ground zero of the Democratic Party's approach to social issues being dictated completely by the left.

  • It’s where Gavin Newsom started handing out same-sex marriage licenses.

    • I assure you the centrist political consultants were petrified
    • The Republicans had been demonizing same-sex couples with some elctoral success in the recent past.
    • Ross Douthat was no doubt expecting an uproar and an uprising from the American people: "those sinful spawn of sodom and Satan cursed by God!"
  • Yet that was not what happened.

  • Americans are much better than Ross Douthat thinks they are, or want them to be_—unless they are first scared out of their wits by Fox News

  • Instead, there were lots of pictures of very happy people.

  • And the dominant reactions were:

    • "they're happy—good for them"
    • "not my thing, but not my business"
    • "I've been pretending to loathe same-sex couples so people won't think I'm a weirdo, but I'm glad to learn that almost nobody really cares".

In my experience, “preserve a cultural centrism” means:

  • Stage a hate against whatever vulnerable minority catches your eye

Right now that is:

  • workers for Hobby Lobby and Chik-fill-a, who want to purchase birth control with the money their employees are getting a tax break for contributing to pay for their health insurance
  • families from Chiapas who are somehow not seeking a better life but are Muslim ISIS terrorists
  • transsexuals because they are icky

Douthat’s editors are not working for their readers when they let him get away with anodyne phrases.

  • They ought to make him specify who he wants us to hate on...

  • He does say he likes Bill Clinton’s “tacitly center-right positions on immigration and crime and same-sex marriage..."

    • We could ask Bill Clinton what he thinks about his positions in the mid-1990s.
    • He would say, to echo Theodore Roosevelt, that "we have traveled far since that day..."
    • Perhaps Douthat should let Clinton speak for himself...


And a Word About Jonathan Weisman...

Just an observation: in the 2000s Jonathan Weismann seemed to me a bad economics reporter

  • He was one of those who went the extra mile to pretend that the arguments for Republican economic policies were stronger than they were
  • In so doing, he got a lot of cooperation from Bush administration sources
    • I believe they knew he would not ask them hard questions...
  • This is a problem with American journalism, especially, I think, the New York Times these days:
    • Editors appear pleased and reward it when reporters work for insider sources first, advertisers second, and readers third, if at all.

#journamalism #equitablegrowth #highlighted