Our Weak Recovery in One Graph

Government Spending During RecessionsThis graph comes via Kevin Drum, Here’s Why the Recovery Has Been So Weak. As he points out, it isn’t new. I have written about this many times myself. But it is really really annoying.

Part of this is Obama’s fault. I remember in 2010, he was spouting the same conservative nonsense as the Republicans, “Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same.” No! No! No! That’s not how macroeconomics works. The entire economy is not like a household. In the entire economy, one person’s reduced spending is another person’s reduced revenue. It was not the right time to tighten the federal budget when the unemployment rate was 9.8% and the inflation rate was 2.6% and heading down.

But the bigger issue is that Republicans always decide that we just can’t spend any money when a Democrat is in the White House. They have been determined to harm the country until a Republican is elected president. And you can count on them racking up huge deficits the moment that happens. And then the economy will quickly improve and everyone will say, “The Republicans saved the economy!” This is all so predictable that it makes me want to do physical harm to myself — like bang my head against a stone wall.

What the graph above shows is that even since World War II, we have all agreed that the government must spend more money during a recession. That’s certainly what we did under George W Bush during the 2001 recession. But we don’t do it now. And it makes me angry. I don’t really blame the Republicans. They are traitors, but I understand that they are just looking out for themselves and they’ve never claimed to be anything else. They are really awful — but honest.

What makes me angry is that the American people keep voting for them. How low does the Republican Party have to sink before the American people will say, “Enough!” Sadly, I think the answer is that there is no level. If the Republicans created a debt crisis by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, it would throw the global economy into recession. But as long as it was done more than six months before an election, the American people would not punish them.

In fact, we’ve already seen this. The world economy is still struggling because of the economic policies forced on us by the Republicans over the last six years. Of course, there are two sides to this. First, there is the ignorant, hateful conservative base that comes out to vote because the only thing that they have to stop them is the fact that they might miss one of their favorite Fox News shows. Second, there are the liberals like Carey Wedler who can’t manage to show up to vote when it isn’t a presidential election.

I wonder if the American people realize just how close we are to fascism? Or even if they care? The Nazis didn’t come to power in Germany because a majority of the people wanted them. If the people of a country can’t be bothered to care for their democracy, they will see it go away very quickly. And if you don’t have a job right now or if you haven’t received a raise in 8 years, all you need to know is in that graph above. And it is mostly thanks to a political party that cares only about getting power and doesn’t care if it has to destroy the nation and its people to get it.

Vote, damn it!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

6 thoughts on “Our Weak Recovery in One Graph

      • I liked how Taibbi’s latest had a throw-off few words that Trump may not be as rich as all that. I’d be surprised if his famed wealth was anything but accounting BS. (Not that actual rich guys are impressive.)

        It fits the national mood, though. People who play by the rules are suckers. People who treat others with respect are cowards. Remember the opening to “Patton”? America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser. The best sort of iconoclast is the free rider, that’s really making a statement!

        • There is a lot of psychopath in Donald Trump. He claims that how he got rich (bankruptcies, government largess) is perfectly fine because it is legal. This is typical of the power elite. Most normal people have ideas about what is moral. The rich have ideas about what is legal. It is a very disturbing aspect of them. I’ve written a lot about how when Mitt Romney talked that way, he was applauded on the right. But when a surfer kid talked the exact same way, he was vilified. Because the kid wasn’t rich.

  1. I am no fan of George W. Bush nor the 2008 Bank Bailouts. However, I do recall, the 43rd President making a darn good case for Keynesian Economics. He said that the private sector failed and only the Government had the size, stability and economies of scale to stabilize the Banking Sector. President Bush did not say “well, when a household is in over its head, they walk away from the mortgage and hope for the best.” President Bush understood that the financial services sector and the US Treasury are not like a typical household and I wish that Obama would have taken that lesson and expanded it to the rest of the Economy.

    I wish that Obama had said that “comparing an Economy to a household sounds simple and folksy but Economic policy is neither.” He had nothing to lose by doing so. His opponents will call him a a communist, socialist, traitor no matter what. President Obama should have rammed through the biggest stimulus possible and either he wins as a socialist in 2012 or he loses as a socialist (which would have been the narrative in any case). Either way, he had little to lose from pursuing genuinely counter cyclical policies. By acting in his GOP lite manner, he did serious damage to those of us who care about Economic justice. We now have to convince voters that while we have had a Democrat in office for eight years, you must now trust us and elect a real Democrat like Bernie Sanders. It is a hard sell to those few genuinely independent voters.

    • I’ve written about this many times. Republicans are always Keynesians as long as a Republican is in the White House. But yes, I’m really angry with Obama about that. And have been for the last five years.

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