Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Last Call

Gentlemen!  Quickly!  To the Bernanke National Heliport!

The Federal Reserve took a genuinely unexpected step Wednesday afternoon when it announced it would significantly enhance its current monetary easing program. The Fed, for the first time, committed to keeping monetary policy loose until the economy crosses precise thresholds — specifically, an unemployment rate below 6.5 percent or a inflation above 2.5 percent.

It also upped its monthly asset purchases by spending an additional $45 billion a month on Treasuries.

Only one member of the Fed Open Market Committee dissented. The significantly more aggressive policy is designed to provide businesses greater incentive to invest, and comes, perhaps not coincidentally, as Congress nears a deadline past which taxes will increase and spending will be cut to the tune of about $50 billion a month.

That $45 billion in treasuries is on top of the $40 billion per month in mortgage-backed securities announced in September.

In other words, the Fed is moving to counteract the fiscal slope before it happens, which means we should probably stop panicking about it in general, and that Republicans have even less leverage now.

Things are looking up.

Terminated Mitt And The Valley Of The Jeep Bleats

PolitiFact lamely attempts to redeem itself by chucking their 2012 Lie of the Year millstone around the neck of the Country's Biggest Loser.  (Link to Balloon Juice, because PolitiFact can kiss my ass.)

It was a lie told in the critical state of Ohio in the final days of a close campaign—that Jeep was moving its U.S. production to China. It originated with a conservative blogger, who twisted an accurate news story into a falsehood. Then it picked up steam when the Drudge Report ran with it. Even though Jeep’s parent company gave a quick and clear denial, Mitt Romney repeated it and his campaign turned it into a TV ad.

And they stood by the claim, even as the media and the public expressed collective outrage against something so obviously false.

People often say that politicians don’t pay a price for deception, but this time was different: A flood of negative press coverage rained down on the Romney campaign, and he failed to turn the tide in Ohio, the most important state in the presidential election.

PolitiFact has selected Romney’s claim that Barack Obama “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China” at the cost of American jobs as the 2012 Lie of the Year.

As John Cole remarks,

Virtually everything he said was a lie, so I am not sure how you choose one over the other.

Amen to that.  By the way, with Republicans now wanting steep cuts to Medicare on top of means testing it on top of voucherizing it, how's that 2011 Politifact Lie of the Year holding up, boys?

Jon Chait, High School High Reporter

Here's your daily dose of irony:  Jon Chait correctly calling out Politico's Village Cool Kids Club for its awfully insular chumminess...

The subject of the piece is Allen and VandeHei’s report that broad agreement exists on the correct policy agenda, as revealed to them through “conversations we have had over the past three months with top lawmakers, officials, their senior aides and the CEOs who advise and lobby all of them.” The story proceeds to describe the obviously sensible agenda agreed upon by these sources: It is vital to reduce the deficit through tax reform and stingier entitlements, along with more free trade, resource extraction, and liberalized immigration.

This is far from the Randian paranoia that has spread among so many millionaires in the Obama agenda. Indeed, I find most of it fairly sensible as policy. What makes the consensus so astonishing, and even nauseating, is the degree to which those who share it show no awareness of their own insularity. Their shared sense of a smart economic growth strategy excludes any monetary or fiscal plan to bring down unemployment through higher consumer demand, a position that commands strong support among economists. Their list of ailments also excludes skyrocketing income inequality and out-of-control carbon emissions. (Though, at the end of a passage extolling the glorious possibility that American oil production will exceed that of Saudi Arabia within a decade, VandeHei and Allen do note, “No doubt, there are environmental concerns, especially for drinking water.” Well, yes. Also for the future of the human race.)

...while Chait whistles past the graveyard of his own chummy, insular piece last March of how Obama failed liberalism so badly in 2011 by extending the unemployment benefits and payroll tax cut (and putting the House GOP in its current bind) that he got re-elected by liberals, the cad.  I pointed Chait's nonsense out back then:

Chait argues that President Obama wanting a deal -- any deal, mind you -- led him to treat the GOP as good faith partners when they were clearly not.  Republicans, he goes on to say, were going to screw POTUS and the country no matter what Obama did.  This is where Chait's argument turns into purist whining:  There was nothing President Obama could have done that would have changed the outcome of the GOP screwing us over (indeed, the GOP is now signaling that it will simply ignore the debt deal), and at the same time he didn't do enough to change the outcome.  It's just meaningless stupidity, brought about by the "liberal" Washington Post unloading this hit piece on the President, and Chait absolutely takes the bait, re-fighting the same arguments we had in 2010 and 2011 about "but if Obama had done THIS and LISTENED TO HOW SMART I AM..." five minutes after saying there was nothing he could have done.

Funny how that works, Jon.  There's really not too much difference between you and Politico on that issue.  Check a mirror next time you want to complain that the inside baseball game is turned up too loud.


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