I've really come to depend on my lefty mailing lists. Here's a rather pleasing sequence from lbo-talk. The opening salvo:
Obama: I'd guarantee $4 billion to retool auto industryDoug Henwood, who has a good head for numbers, responds:
A safety net for automakers picks up steam
BY CHRIS CHRISTOFF
[Obama] called for $4 billion in guaranteed loans and tax credits to help U.S. automakers retool for more fuel-efficient cars and to develop batteries for plug-in hybrids that get up to 150 m.p.g. The new breed of automobiles would fetch a $7,000 federal tax credit for buyers.
> Obama: I'd guarantee $4 billion to retool auto industry That's very nice of him, but GM has lost $47 billion over the last year; Ford, $12 billion. So $4 billion would cover about three and a half weeks of their losses.
Doug doesn't seem to have been as struck as I was at the notion that the taxpayers should pay people to buy new cars. But hey, you can't have everything. And the best is yet to come, from another contributor to the list:
This reminds me of something Louis Menand said in the NYRB in 1997 about Clinton (and Washington politics in general):The whole thing is well worth reading. Obama: Son Of Clinton!
In a speech in San Francisco last month, President Clinton announced three new urban initiatives. First, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will offer a 50 percent discount to police officers who buy homes owned by the department in neighborhoods they patrol. The program is designed to reach one thousand police officers. It will last one year. The second is a reduction in the points on Federal Housing Administration mortgages, from 1.75 percent to 1.5 percent, for first-time home buyers in inner cities. This program is expected to save twenty thousand eligible buyers about $200 each in closing costs. The third initiative is a demonstration program that will allow up to two thousand families to use federal rent subsidy money to buy their own homes.
This is the style of governance that has been adopted by a country that has the strongest economy in the world, has enjoyed five years of sustained growth [1997, remember -- Ed.], confronts no immediate threat to its security, and has almost completely lost its faith in public works. This style is not neoliberalism or neoconservatism, whatever those terms mean. It is something different, a kind of Government Lite. We want to improve conditions in depressed urban areas, so we show our good intentions by sprinkling a handful of federal fairy dust over them.