Notwithstanding the [late] reckoning with our very own special coup, the one we think we dodged and the very one over which Our Media is fascinated by exactly all the wrong details; the battle between Chicago and lake Michigan; and the new Gilded Age space flights for plutocrat tourists, the economy seems to have magically withstood a pandemic (Narrator: It’s not magic):
Initial unemployment claims came in at 360,000 for the week ending July 10, below the previous week’s revised read of 386,000. That reading matched the consensus forecast among economists, according to Bloomberg.
The decline in the seasonally adjusted number resumes the overall downward trend of the volatile data series after an unexpected rise in initial claims last week. The Labor Department noted that this marks a new pandemic-era low.
While the number of Americans newly filing for unemployment benefits tends to bounce around from week to week, it’s been on a general downward trend after spiking to record-shattering numbers amid the early days of the pandemic last spring. The return to that downward trend matches other data suggesting a steadily recovering labor market.
360K is still a very many lot of people, and yet you ask: after years of making sure our billionaires had enough nest eggs to color-coordinate their space suits, how was it possible to get through a year of very limited economic activity and still be able browse and sniff at the want ads and generally avoid most of the fascist tendencies on offer? Give. People. Money.
CARES and PPP run themselves out by design, which is helping people stay afloat. This is why we’re longing for vacations instead of standing in breadlines. And the infrastructure bill will bring more of this – not gifts and not luxuries – but investments in people and how we live, with recommendations for new arrangements for different needs that WE have made absolutely necessary (see Chicago example above and read the history). Move the monuments. Buy the trains. Pay the carpenters, or become one. As legend has it, the profession has a storied past.
He is the glass half-filled, half-empty, trying to do too much, done too little, he’s too different from us, too similar, too cautious, too radical… the President is the ultimate Rorschach. But if you want to take a look at what he’s actually done, there’s a top 50:
1. Passed Health Care Reform: After five presidents over a century failed to create universal health insurance, signed the Affordable Care Act (2010). It will cover 32 million uninsured Americans beginning in 2014 and mandates a suite of experimental measures to cut health care cost growth, the number one cause of America’s long-term fiscal problems.
2. Passed the Stimulus: Signed $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 to spur economic growth amid greatest recession since the Great Depression. Weeks after stimulus went into effect, unemployment claims began to subside. Twelve months later, the private sector began producing more jobs than it was losing, and it has continued to do so for twenty-three straight months, creating a total of nearly 3.7 million new private-sector jobs.
3. Passed Wall Street Reform: Signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) to re-regulate the financial sector after its practices caused the Great Recession. The new law tightens capital requirements on large banks and other financial institutions, requires derivatives to be sold on clearinghouses and exchanges, mandates that large banks provide “living wills” to avoid chaotic bankruptcies, limits their ability to trade with customers’ money for their own profit, and creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (now headed by Richard Cordray) to crack down on abusive lending products and companies.
The Republicans must try to tear him down – it’s their only chance. Restless progressives and others (I’m endeared of the term ‘totebaggers’ as wielded at BJ and elsewhere) have no excuse other than cynical ennui. Get a hobby, but support the skinny black guy taking names in the toughest job on the list.
Or cementing, if you like. An American Business Community that was way late on the short-sighted-ness of sprawl, commercial real estate and exotic financial instruments (but big on INNOVATION!) is now working to defeat healthcare reform legislation because it will… slow down the climate change legislation juggernaut. Synergy!
Corporate front groups and large business trade associations are funneling their resources into defeating health reform. Even though health reform will lower costs for small businesses and boost worker productivity economy-wide, it appears that corporate entities influenced by major polluters are hoping that the defeat of health care legislation will slow President Obama’s agenda and derail their true enemy: clean energy reform.
The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, which is largely backed by the coal industry, candidly revealed this strategy in a letter released today to Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Robert Byrd (D-WV). The Chamber of Commerce demanded that the senators use “their clout and seniority” to obstruct the health reform debate until cap and trade legislation is taken off the table and the EPA is barred from regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant. As Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette noted, Rockefeller has already rejected a similar proposal of blocking health reform unless the EPA stops reviewing mountaintop removal permits. The coal lobby has also pressured West Virginia state legislators to pass resolutions opposing clean energy reform.
I’m kind of even bored with my own impulses toward snark on this, and maybe that’s a good sign. It’s simply not amusing, the way in which major financial interests in this country align their loyalties with short term infringements on their power instead of taking a longer view toward sustainable, if lower, profitability. That is the trade-off they choose to see. But it’s not a trade. It’s a fail. They appear wiling to sacrifice both for neither, as though activating some kind of compass in their Solomonic wisdom survival pack. But you have to wonder, the survival of exactly what?
Plus, in what kind of country is the true enemy clean energy reform? Explain your answer.