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Thread: President Biden's Infrastructure Plans

  1. Top | #51
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Kristen Eshleman on Twitter: "@RachelRCarlson Yes to collective impact. Hope this group will consult with and look deeply at the work of these incredible female economists who are rethinking capitalism: (@MazzucatoM; @CarlotaPrzPerez; etc) (link)" / Twitter
    noting
    5 Economists Redefining… Everything. Oh Yes, And They’re Women
    Few economists become household names. Last century, it was John Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman. Today, Thomas Piketty has become the economists’ poster-boy. Yet listen to the buzz, and it is five female economists who deserve our attention. They are revolutionising their field by questioning the meaning of everything from ‘value’ and ‘debt’ to ‘growth’ and ‘GDP.’ Esther Duflo, Stephanie Kelton, Mariana Mazzucato, Carlota Perez and Kate Raworth are united in one thing: their amazement at the way economics has been defined and debated to date. Their incredulity is palpable.
    The trillion-dollar woman - The.Ink by Anand Giridharadas, interviewing SK
    oe Biden is president of the United States, but he lives in Stephanie Kelton’s world.

    An economist and champion of so-called Modern Monetary Theory, Kelton has long agitated against what she calls “the deficit myth,” which is also the title of her bestselling book on the subject.

    At the most basic level, Kelton believes the United States government is capable of investing far more than it ordinarily does, or than most people think it should, in making people’s lives better. And she argues that much of the resistance to doing so is grounded in outdated, gold-standard thinking that has no place in reality today.
    Then the interview.
    ANAND: In the wake of the passage of the American Rescue Plan, we’ve heard every manner of reaction. Joe Biden is a dangerous socialist. Joe Biden is putting lipstick on the pig of austerity politics. Joe Biden is the second coming of FDR. Or maybe LBJ. How would you assess what happened and what it tells us about where this presidency is headed?

    STEPHANIE: I served as one of eight members on the Biden-Sanders “unity task force” on the economy. Some of the other members are now in the administration. I’m not sure exactly what I expected to see from Biden in his first 100 days, but the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act went beyond anything I would have anticipated.

    ...
    Biden is no socialist, but he does seem to understand that his presidency will be judged, in large part, on the degree to which his policies deliver material improvements in people’s lives.

    It’s way too early for comparisons to FDR and LBJ. I think Harvey Kaye, who has written several books on FDR, has this right. He tweeted that Biden will be less like FDR or LBJ and more like Dwight Eisenhower if Dems succeed in passing an infrastructure bill but can’t bust the filibuster and pass the PRO Act and the For the People Act.
    PRO Act: supports labor unions
    For the People Act: election reform

  2. Top | #52
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    A year ago:
    Congress and White House say blowing up deficit not a concern for coronavirus stimulus - CNNPolitics
    then
    CNN on Twitter: "Lawmakers and the White House are putting aside any concerns about blowing up the deficit as they consider a trillion-dollar stimulus package to boost the economy in response to coronavirus. (link)" / Twitter
    then
    Stephanie Kelton on Twitter: "It took a virus to kill the deficit myth." / Twitter
    with responses
    Fred on Twitter: "@StephanieKelton You mean a global pandemic that is killing people at alarming rates?" / Twitter
    and
    Stephanie Kelton on Twitter: "@WaywardWinifred Yes, that. It has (at least temporarily) laid bare so many flawed and phony arguments, including those pushed by people who are now urging government to spend freely and ignore deficits. Those folks are right now, but they should have known better then." / Twitter

    Something like FDR not worrying about balancing the Federal budget after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.


    AG then asked SK to explain MMT in simple terms.

    She explained that the Federal Government has an ability that state and local governments don't: the ability to print more money.

    "At its core, MMT is about replacing the (flawed) concept of a government budget constraint with a natural resource (inflation) constraint."

    That is, printing more money than the non-monetary parts of the economy, this giving more money per non-monetary unit.
    MMT teaches us to ask not, “How will you pay for it?” but “How will you resource it?” The politics are hard, but coming up with the money for Medicare for All, tuition-free college, or a huge infrastructure package is the easy part. Managing the use of our productive resources, and respecting our ecological constraints, is the defining challenge of our time.

    ANAND: How significant is the new child benefit, and do you think it creates the rudiments of a basic income in American life?

    STEPHANIE: It’s significant. Anytime you can cut child poverty in half with a stroke of the pen, it is, as Biden says, “a big f-ing deal.” It is life-changing and significant for millions of families. It shows that poverty is and always has been a policy choice. But it’s also, potentially, a temporary improvement in their economic station.
    Then about the Senate.
    There was just no way for Democrats to get a package through a standalone bill with the filibuster in place. To have the kind of freedom to do bold, FDR-like stuff, they need to get rid of a whole suite of self-imposed budget rules and constraints. I think you’re right, though. The public’s appetite has been whetted. Unlike the GOP tax cuts, Biden’s rescue package was enormously popular, and that should make it easier for lawmakers to turn some of the temporary measures into longer-term commitments.
    As to taxing the rich,
    I think every MMT scholar strongly favors substantial tax increases on the wealthiest people in our society — not so much because they’re not paying their fair share but — because they have been taking more than their fair share for too long, something you’ve written about yourself. We have dangerous levels of income and wealth inequality, and that is all the justification I need to support many of the tax increases Senators Warren and Sanders have proposed.

  3. Top | #53
    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Then about presenting MMT.
    STEPHANIE: I think Biden is a pretty terrific messenger. He sold the population on the need for a nearly $2 trillion rescue package, and he’s on the verge of barnstorming the country to build support for another $3 to $4 trillion for his Build Back Better agenda. He could go even bigger, and I think he could do it without giving the other side any rope to hang him with.

    It’s not communism or socialism but a kind of protectionism that he could successfully lean into to build support for a more progressive suite of economic policies.

    Donald Trump successfully pushed a protectionist narrative. A typically racist and ugly kind of protectionism, but protectionism nonetheless. Much of it was purely racist. It was about protecting “us” from “them.” But he also spoke of the economic system's failures and the way he intended to protect workers from raw trade deals and the like.
    And not very successful protectionism at that.

    She then mentioned FDR's Economic Bill of Rights: The Economic Bill of Rights - Second Bill of Rights
    And now we come full circle. FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights was a protectionist document. It enumerated a set of essential protections that should be afforded to every person in this country. The right to a job and a decent wage, the right to operate a business free of unfair competition and monopolies, the right to an education, to housing and health care, and to a secure retirement.
    An updated version: An Economic Bill of Rights for the 21st Century - The American Prospect

    Starting with FDR's version:
    1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.
    2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation.
    3. The right of every family to a decent home.
    4. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
    5. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.
    6. The right to a good education.
    adding:
    7. The right to sound banking and financial services.
    8. The right to a safe and clean environment.
    9. The right to a meaningful endowment of resources as a birthright.

  4. Top | #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post

    AG then asked SK to explain MMT in simple terms.

    She explained that the Federal Government has an ability that state and local governments don't: the ability to print more money.
    MMT reminds me of this bit from TRatEotU:
    Quote Originally Posted by Douglas Adams
    “Thank you. Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt the leaf as legal tender, we have, of course, all become immensely rich.”
    Ford stared in disbelief at the crowd who were murmuring appreciatively at this and greedily fingering the wads of leaves with which their track suits were stuffed.
    “But we have also,” continued the management consultant, “run into a small inflation problem on account of the high level of leaf availability, which means that, I gather, the current going rate has something like three deciduous forests buying one ship’s peanut."

  5. Top | #55
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    AG's interview of SK ends with
    ANAND: For years, my plea has been that we have to end the age of capital — this neoliberal era — and launch an age of reform. Where do you think we are at this moment in time on that long arc?

    STEPHANIE: I’d say we’re closer than we’ve been in a long time, but it could well get much worse before it gets better. I hope I’m wrong, but climate change is going to confront us with some very bad circumstances. If we can’t rebuild basic levels of empathy and communitarian commitment, those bad circumstances are going to make us meaner, more scared, more selfish, and ultimately more violent than we already are.
    In effect, go from a Schlesinger conservative era to a Schlesinger liberal one: Cyclical theory (United States history)
    We are overdue for the end of Gilded Age II, and we are experiencing the typical features of an end of a conservative phase: social problems accumulating with society's elites making inadequate responses, to the extent that they think that those problems exist. Also evident is what makes conservative phases end: activism to solve those problems.

  6. Top | #56
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    When I take the family out for pizza I often order a small Caesar salad on the side. In future need I correct my diction? Instead of "let's go for pizza" must I say "let's go for pizza and a Caesar salad on the side"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowy Man View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Trausti View Post
    Cite one previous infrastructure bill/law - just one of the thousands - that included child and elder care as infrastructure. I mean, if this isn't all bullshit you'd be able to do that easily, right?
    Would you consider hospitals to be part of infrastructure?
    @ Trausti -- First we'll need a cite that there have been "thousands" of "infrastructure bills." Or was this exaggeration just "colorful speech"? Are only red-shirts allowed to be colorful?

    And did you decide whether hospitals are infrastructure yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by thebeave View Post
    It belongs in a bill that deals with health and family care. Either create a separate bill for that, or stop referring to it as an "infrastructure" bill and call it something else. Politicians of all stripes pull this shit and it just goes to show the depths of their dishonesty.
    It was just a week ago that someone on your side of the aisle was bragging that "millions" (or was it "billions"?) of laws have been passed with more than one purpose.

    There are different types of "infrastructure" — should each one get its own separate bill? Or is bundling things together OK as long as Webster's Dictionary agrees they are all "infrastructure"? In the latter case, would your complaint go away were the title of the bill changed from "Infrastructure" to, e.g. "Things we want to do"?

    And I hope you do answer the following question: Your complaint is that differences of opinion about the definition of "infrastructure" show "the depths of [politicians'] dishonesty", right?

    Lies about Stop the Steal and inciting insurrection: that didn't expose the depths of dishonesty? Sharing photos of the teenage pussy we grabbed is OK? Sabotaging elections while pretending to protect them: That's OK too? But forgetting to mention the side dish of salad when going out for pizza, THAT'S what exposes the despicableness?

    Get a grip, man.

  7. Top | #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swammerdami View Post
    When I take the family out for pizza I often order a small Caesar salad on the side. In future need I correct my diction? Instead of "let's go for pizza" must I say "let's go for pizza and a Caesar salad on the side"?



    @ Trausti -- First we'll need a cite that there have been "thousands" of "infrastructure bills." Or was this exaggeration just "colorful speech"? Are only red-shirts allowed to be colorful?

    And did you decide whether hospitals are infrastructure yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by thebeave View Post
    It belongs in a bill that deals with health and family care. Either create a separate bill for that, or stop referring to it as an "infrastructure" bill and call it something else. Politicians of all stripes pull this shit and it just goes to show the depths of their dishonesty.
    It was just a week ago that someone on your side of the aisle was bragging that "millions" (or was it "billions"?) of laws have been passed with more than one purpose.

    There are different types of "infrastructure" — should each one get its own separate bill? Or is bundling things together OK as long as Webster's Dictionary agrees they are all "infrastructure"? In the latter case, would your complaint go away were the title of the bill changed from "Infrastructure" to, e.g. "Things we want to do"?

    And I hope you do answer the following question: Your complaint is that differences of opinion about the definition of "infrastructure" show "the depths of [politicians'] dishonesty", right?

    Lies about Stop the Steal and inciting insurrection: that didn't expose the depths of dishonesty? Sharing photos of the teenage pussy we grabbed is OK? Sabotaging elections while pretending to protect them: That's OK too? But forgetting to mention the side dish of salad when going out for pizza, THAT'S what exposes the despicableness?

    Get a grip, man.
    Dude, you've gone unhinged. How did you get to teenage pussy grabbing in a discussion about a spending bill? I specifically said, "Politicians of all stripes" do it. That means Republicans and Democrats. So I am not picking sides here. Here's an example from last summer where the Republicans did a similar thing. I think what they did is deceptive and dishonest, and I would hope you feel the same:

    https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zon...-covid-19-bill

    Yesterday, Senate Republicans unveiled a proposed bill that would authorize a $1 trillion spending package ostensibly to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it has had, especially economically, across the country this year. The draft law immediately drew criticism for including a raft of line items that seem at best tangentially related to those efforts, while many are not at all, including around $30 billion in defense spending, which would be on top of the more than $705 billion in the proposed defense budget for the 2021 Fiscal Year.
    By your standard, that would seem to be OK. If Covid-19 spending is the pizza, then defense spending is the Caeser salad, right?

    I'm certainly not opposed to considering responsible federal spending on child and elder care, which is probably what you think my true motives are in questioning the inclusion of it into an infrastructure bill.

  8. Top | #58
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    With a sovereign currency (fiat money), the purpose of taxes is not to raise revenue; it is to sop up excess spending power, spending which could lead to inflationary pressures. In today's America, especially after Republican tax cuts, spending power is concentrated in the hands of the super-rich, who are likely to use that power to bid up asset prices rather than to buy goods or services. Asset price bubbles, while not classed as "inflation," have their own risks.

    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    ... CNN on Twitter: "Lawmakers and the White House are putting aside any concerns about blowing up the deficit as they consider a trillion-dollar stimulus package to boost the economy in response to coronavirus. (link)"
    ...
    As to taxing the rich,
    I think every MMT scholar strongly favors substantial tax increases on the wealthiest people in our society — not so much because they’re not paying their fair share but — because they have been taking more than their fair share for too long, something you’ve written about yourself. We have dangerous levels of income and wealth inequality, and that is all the justification I need to support many of the tax increases Senators Warren and Sanders have proposed.
    "Fairness" is one reason to move the tax rates on the rich back toward the higher levels they had under Bush-43. But dampening the asset price bubble may also be worthwhile. If the Bubble is left to grow further, its sudden puncturing — perhaps precipitated by fears of inflation — will lead to loss of confidence and probably another credit crisis. The Fed's remedies are moving the economy further and further from a natural free market to resemble instead a theme park ride with unknown destination.

    But one needn't subscribe to MMT to realize that the humans, if finally in control on Capitol Hill, should push for all the deficit spending they can. We now know that every Trillion Dollars that the D's do NOT spend, will be spent on further tax cuts for the rich the next time Republicans are in control. Given such GOP behavior, Parsimony with the budget simply has no rational purpose today.

    It's time to turn the GOP's meme on its end. They've been saying "We'd love to spend a billion on education or healthcare for the poor, but we can't: There's no money left after our trillion dollar tax cut." It's time for the D's to answer "We'd love to give more billions to the Kochs and Zuckerbergs, but we can't afford it: We spent the money to help the American lower and middle classes."

  9. Top | #59
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    Looks like Pelosi is pondering two bills, one for the bridges and roads type infrastructure, which I'm sure the right-wing will get right behind, and one for the infrastructure to increase the viability of the work force.

    In a decent world, there is a bipartisan vote for the infrastructure bill and then reconciliation plus gets the other stuff through, but with the GOP the way it is, the Democrats will likely need reconciliation plus to get the hard infrastructure bill through, and the other stuff won't happen.

    It is insane, that the reality in America is that things are so crappy, some can't afford to work without using schools as quasi-day care.

  10. Top | #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Higgins View Post
    Looks like Pelosi is pondering two bills, one for the bridges and roads type infrastructure, which I'm sure the right-wing will get right behind, and one for the infrastructure to increase the viability of the work force.

    In a decent world, there is a bipartisan vote for the infrastructure bill and then reconciliation plus gets the other stuff through, but with the GOP the way it is, the Democrats will likely need reconciliation plus to get the hard infrastructure bill through, and the other stuff won't happen.

    It is insane, that the reality in America is that things are so crappy, some can't afford to work without using schools as quasi-day care.
    I don't much like this splitting of infrastructure into two definitions. "Human Infrastructure" will quickly become a smear on right wing news.

    We're hard-pressed to fill blue collar jobs now due to a lack of well trained candidates. Upgrading transportation and utilities and I would suspect having a "buy American" provision attached is just going to exacerbate the problem. There's gonna be a need for some "human" investment if they're gonna make this work.

    Broadband should be little more than subsidizing the cost. Musk and Bezos are both slinging thousands of satellites into orbit now and over the next couple years to cover the corn people
    so their voice can be better heard bitching about government subsidies.

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