Friday, November 2, 2012

Long Haul

I guess if President Obama and his team had fully apprehended the depth of the economic disaster they faced at the beginning of his term, at least he'd have made more of an effort to prepare people for a long haul. Whether he'd have done anything else differently -- and whether Congressional Rs would have gone along -- is another matter. But it might have made less effective Mitt Romney's attempts to blame the slowness of recovery on Obama. (He characterized today's better-than-expected jobs numbers as "sad.")

It certainly wouldn't have kept Romney from making the claims, of course. Nor, given the right's eagerness to accept his lies, could we assume there'd be much difference in the state of the race today.

I bring this up because of an article about Bill Clinton's message on the trail: according to an economist with whom I'm not familiar other than by name (and we've heard the message before), the economic meltdown was of such magnitude that no one no way could have fully healed it in four years. Ten years, would be the expectation. And now that we know that, I assume Mitt will admit it, as he does whenever his lies are pointed out. Right.

Clinton said Rogoff is a moderate Republican. And then he related a conversation he had with Rogoff after reading his book. 
"I called him on the phone and I said, 'I read this very carefully. I just have a question. Do you believe that there's any way America could have fully recovered from that crash in four years?'" Clinton said. "He said, 'Lord no.'" "He said, 'No serious person believes that.' He said, 'The average country takes 10 years,'" Clinton said. 
Clinton did not mention that Rogoff and Reinhart wrote a column for Bloomberg News two weeks ago, arguing that the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009 was not a "borderline" economic crisis, but rather a "full-blown systemic meltdown." 
History has shown that economies hit by a systemic event have taken an average of about 10 years to recover, the two scholars wrote. Their point was to counter those, including Republican Mitt Romney, who have said that Obama's policies have made the economic downturn worse by prolonging it and stifling recovery. Romney's point, made by many others as well, has been that the U.S. economy usually recovers from a crisis within a few years.
And yet, by all criteria, we're recovering steadily. Far better than Europe which, following the Romney/Ryan austerity model, is sinking back. To me it looks like it'll be less than ten years for full recovery here, unless Rs win and screw it up (although I admit I have no basis for saying that).

All political campaigns are depressing. I'm long past the point of muting every political ad, no matter from whom. And the nastiness, if no worse in general than usual, has reinforced the impenetrable polarization of our political system. But Mitt Romney, every day, every time he opens his mouth, pollutes the process beyond anything ever seen in a presidential campaign. The man simply can't tell the truth about anything. And he comes up with a new lie every day. So great is his desperation to be president that there's no lie he won't tell, no discredited campaign ad that he won't continue to run; and the upshot is that this time around it's two imaginary candidates that take most of the oxygen: the fake Mitt, who changes himself daily. And the fake Barack Obama against whom he campaigns.

In times like these, people deserve an election about real choices and real policies. Thanks to Mitt Romney, they're getting the exact opposite. Thanks to Fox "news" and Karl Rove and the Koch brothers, and Sheldon Adelson and screaming scumbags like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, they don't notice and don't care.

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