Fed chairman Ben Bernanke announced yesterday that the Fed would buy mortgage-backed bonds at a rate of $40 billion a month until the employment picture improves and will leave effective interest rates near zero through 2015.
That appears to be the Democratic Party’s takeaway from its humbling defeat in the Wisconsin recall election. That and the ever familiar lament that workers no longer seem capable of voting consistently in their own financial interests, consistency in this case meaning in solidarity with embattled public sector workers and their unions. 38% of households with union members voted for the incumbent, as did a majority of non-college graduates. Walker carried the 10 poorest counties in the state by a 13% margin.
Obama and Romney agree that the Stafford loan program should be maintained at a 3.4% interest rate, rather than being allowed to double by this July. This, somehow, is seen as a great boon to students and evidence of a bipartisan commitment to the upcoming generation. Keeping interest rates low purportedly encourages prospective students to choose more education than they might otherwise aspire to, to select more expensive colleges than they could otherwise seek, and to finance this education through more debt than they would otherwise incur.
New Politics’ co-editor, Betty Mandell, recently championed Social Security as a fundamental universal right rejecting any recourse to selectivity through means testing. This is the first line in any robust defense of this “entitlement,” the right to live in dignity with a modicum of comfort in retirement. What is upheld in this is the fundamental distinction between a social insurance program of deferred benefits and a social assistance program.
President Obama outlined his new American Jobs Act before a packed Congress, more than half of whom believe the poor and jobless are undertaxed moochers and that the government does not create jobs. The Democrats will have their hands full.
Many on the left find it difficult to understand the right wing arguments against countercyclical activity. And I suspect no source of clarification will originate among the knuckle dragging idiots contesting the field for the Republican presidential nomination. Their pronouncements are as exasperating as they are primitive and self-contradictory. But to understand the mindset of the modern reactionary—to impart to it a coherency that it normally cannot do on its own, one cannot avoid plumbing the depths of gold bug-ism.
“Debt crisis: stock markets panic” was the first entry to the Guardian on line in the aftermath of the Dow’s recent 4 percent rout. Bloomberg News noted that more than $4.5 trillion has been erased from the value of equities worldwide since July 26th. The Los Angeles Times headlined that “Global sell-off intensifies pressure on governments to stave off recession.”
The basic issue for socialists in confronting the Libyan situation is this: we wish Qaddafi to be defeated, but we are not indifferent to who defeats him. That is because who defeats Qaddafi involves how the regime is brought down and the consequences of that downfall. We are not in support of capitalist imperialism being the agent of that defeat, even though almost any conceivable regime that replaces Qaddafi would most likely be a “lesser evil” to this, one of the world’s most horrific police states.