Item: Speaking in Canada where he was attending the Group of 20 summit, “President Barack Obama said on Sunday he would follow through on a pledge to rein in soaring U.S. budget deficits and said that would involve presenting Americans with ‘some very difficult choices’ next year,” reported Reuters for June 27. The President, continued the wire service, “has said the deficits are a legacy of the Bush administration.”
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released its most dire warning yet of a looming U.S. debt crisis, openly comparing the U.S. budget situation to the Greek, Irish, and Argentinian debt crises and calling for a 20 percent cut in the size of the federal government. The July 27 report, “Federal Debt and the Risk of a Fiscal Crisis,” comes just days after the Obama administration revised upward its deficit projections for fiscal 2010-11 to a two-year total of $2.89 trillion. The CBO had labeled the federal spending path “unsustainable” in a June report.
Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke told Congress this week that despite not having any imminent plans to further “support” the economy, the central bank was “considering all options” to fight unemployment and could “step into new areas” because the alleged recovery remains “unusually uncertain.”
Earlier this year, it looked as if columnist Paul Craig Roberts had hung up his word processor in disgust, having just published his book How the Economy Was Lost (mostly a collection of his best columns of the past decade) and a swansong article “Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It.” Recently, however, he has returned with a few new columns, e.g., this one — and a revealing interview with the Swiss-based free-market webzine The Daily Bell.
The White House on July 21 extolled the extension of unemployment insurance by the Senate, claiming it was “not only the decent thing to do but one of the most effective ways to boost our economy.” President Obama signed the extension into law immediately, saying that this was “desperately needed assistance to two and a half million Americans who lost their jobs in the recession…Americans who…will finally get the support they need to get back on their feet during these tough economic times.”
Instead of asking for a federal bailout, Maine is considering shifting part of its underfunded pension plan liabilities to Social Security. Without the proposed fix, the pension liability the state currently faces is “going to rip the guts out of our budget,” according to Peter Mills, the state Senator who initially suggested the plan.
A triumphant and triumphalist President Obama signed the financial overhaul bill into law July 21, promising as he did that “the American people will never be asked again to foot the bill for Wall Street's mistakes.”
The unremitting flow of negative news about the economy has finally caught the attention of the mainstream media, causing an increasing number of economists to make comparisons between today’s recession and the Great Depression.
Czarist Russia is looking better and better. Once a byword for bureaucratic absolutism, the apparatchiks of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg and their endless rule-making seem positively enlightened beside some of the pieces of aptly named omnibus legislation emanating from Capitol Hill these days. The newly passed Dodd-Frank Financial Regulation Bill may be the worst yet. At 2,315 pages and 390,000 words, the bill is half the size of the entire King James Bible. It stretches credulity to believe that America’s political leaders now enact single pieces of legislation many times the size of the entire Mosaic code. But they do.
The economy has gained either 2.5 million jobs or 3.6 million jobs since the Recovery Act was signed into law in January, 2009, depending upon which statistical “model” is used, according to Christina Romer, Chair of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers. When compared to the report issued earlier this month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, neither number is even close.
Central bankers and analysts are warning of another credit crisis just around the corner as banks start competing with governments to refinance trillions of dollars in short-term debts coming due soon, resulting in significantly reduced credit availability for businesses and consumers, among other problems.