Thursday, February 19, 2015

Republicans Really, Really Fear Russ Feingold

While there is rumor running rampant that Russ Feingold is going to return to Wisconsin to run for his old seat, it is not clear at this time how much of this rumor is based on fact and how much of it is just the fantasy of hope-starved Wisconsinites. Feingold hasn't even returned from his ambassadorship to Africa.

But that didn't stop the Republicans from attacking him:
Russ Feingold has yet to say a word, publicly, about the possibility of a rematch with U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. But Republicans aren't wasting any time in launching attacks against the Democratic former senator.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent a press release on Tuesday calling attention to Feingold's role in passing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, enacted six years ago today.

"With Russ Feingold plotting his return to power, it’s worth remembering that when he voted for the failed $830 billion stimulus he claimed spending programs would balance our budget," the release reads.
By failure, the Republicans, of course, mean creating job and having the stock market break new record highs.

But they weren't done there.

Circling the wagons around Ron Johnson, the most vulnerable senator in Washington, they took a page from Scott Walker's playbook, mocking education and making intelligence seem like a bad thing:
The NRSC took a dig at Feingold's Rhodes Scholar status in its release.

"It doesn’t take a math degree to figure out that Russ Feingold is being dishonest when he said spending initiatives like the $830 billion stimulus would balance our budget," NRSC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in a statement. "Before this Rhodes Scholar re-enters the ring it wouldn’t hurt Feingold to learn that more spending equals more debt."
If this is the best the Republicans can come up with, it will be a long, long year and a half for them.


  1. The NRSC statement you mock includes such phrases as "spending initiatives," "balance our budget," and "more spending equals more debt." That stuff makes right wingers salivate and they'll turn out to vote for RoJo. Can Russ find stimuli for the other half of the electorate?

    1. The government deficit = non-government surplus to the penny‏. If we want the federal government to correct its budget stand, then we must necessarily be asking ourselves to correct ours. If we demand that the government runs a surplus, then we are demanding that we, the private sector run a deficit.

      So, take your pick: would you like the private sector to be in surplus or the government? You cannot have both. Presumably, we'd prefer the private sector to save and accumulate financial assets, which means that the government must run a deficit and accumulate financial liabilities?

      State and local budgets are different than the federal budget. They have to balance.

      Article below explains it very well.

      "Beware of politicians bearing household analogies"


      What has to "balance" are the three economic sectors, private (domestic), foreign and public.

      "Fiscal Space and Financial Stability: A Differential Analysis" is a very accessible 49-minute video by the chair of the Economics department at UMKC, Prof. Stephanie Kelton. The slides really help.

      "But new budget committee ranking member Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is poised to break dramatically from traditional Democratic views on budgeting, from Obama to Clinton to Walter Mondale and beyond.

      His big move: naming University of Missouri - Kansas City professor Stephanie Kelton as his chief economist. Kelton is not exactly a household name, but to those who follow economic policy debates closely, tapping her is a dramatic sign.

      For years, the main disagreement between Democratic and Republican budget negotiators was about how to balance the budget — what to cut, what to tax, how fast to implement it — but not whether to balance it. Even most liberal economists agree that, in the medium-run, it's better to have less government debt rather than more. Kelton denies that premise. She thinks that, in many cases, government surpluses are actively destructive and balancing the budget is very dangerous. For example, Kelton thinks the Clinton surpluses are nothing to brag about and they actually inflicted economic damage lasting over a decade...."

    2. What matters is the "real" economy. Do people have jobs? Can they afford to buy stuff beyond food and shelter, can they afford to get married, can they afford to buy cars, houses, health care, education..., save for retirement...,? Do we have price stability? Is there demand pull inflation, (too many dollars chasing too few goods and services)? The last one, demand pull inflation, could be a sign that an economy needs smaller deficits. Where we are now, however, in a deflationary economy, we need to run larger federal deficits to put dollars back in people's pockets. Dems should be running on bringing back the full holiday on both sides of the payroll tax (FICA), and much greater federal spending on health care, education, and infrastructure.

    3. RoJo never mentions the real "welfare queens," the Wall Street CEO's and the oligarchs (via derivatives and lots of other handouts).

      "Bank Of America Dumps $75 Trillion In Derivatives On U.S. Taxpayers With Federal Approval"

      To put $75 trillion in perspective, US GDP in 2012 was around $16.5 trillion. We blew a lot more than the $6 trillion they're claiming in Iraq and Afghanistan. Social Security's Trust Fund is around $2.3 trillion. Bank of America is just one Wall Street bank. They all have derivative exposure. I've seen estimates of $700 trillion, but I don't think anyone knows.

      Sen. Feingold was one of the few in Congress in 1999 to vote AGAINST repealing Glass-Steagall

      which had protected Americans from Wall Street since 1933. After the 1999 repeal, it only took until 2008 for Feingold's courageous vote to be recognized.

      That's the message Wisconsin Dems need to send, it's about main street, not Wall Street.

  2. Joe, agree, but anyone (and that includes most D's and R's) who wants to "balance" the federal budget is a fiscal illiterate, who doesn't understand that we don't borrow dollars from China or our grandchildren. The fiscal illiterates also don't understand "demand leakage."

    "Demand Leakage, the 800lb Economist in the Room"

    "...Demand leakages are unspent income. For a given currency, if any agent doesn't spend his income, some other agent has to spend more than his income, or that much output doesn't get sold. So if the non government sectors collectively don't spend all of their income, it's up to government to make sure its income is less than its spending, or that much output doesn't get sold. This translates into what's commonly called the 'output gap,' which is largely a sanitized way of saying unemployment.

    And with the private sector necessarily pro cyclical, the (whopping) private sector spending gap in this economy can only be filled with by government via either a (whopping) tax cut and/or spending increase (depending on one's politics).

    So wherefore the 'demand leakages?' The lion's share are due to tax advantages for not spending your income, including pension contributions, IRA's and all kinds of corporate reserves. Then there's foreign hoards accumulated to support foreign exporters. And it all should be a very good thing -- all of that net unspent income means that for a given size government, and a given non government rate of credit expansion, our taxes can be that much lower. Personally, I'd rather have a tax cut than a policy to get other people to spend their unspent income or borrow more. But that's just me..."

  3. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I do hope Feingold returns and tries to win back his old Senate seat (or any other office). That said, I feel like a lot of people in Wisconsin have been sitting on their hands for the past four years, waiting around for Russ to come back. What if he decides he's done with politics and decides not to run? The DPW can't pin all their hopes on a Feingold comeback.

  4. And Republican darling Scott Walker is doing so well with Wisconsin's economy?

    1. Bear in mind that Scott Walker could not win in a presidential election cycle year such as 2016. Feingold, however did win in 1992, 1998 and 2004. If one were to compare Walker and Feingold, Walker comes out looking meek and certainly the policy lightweight to Feingold's erudition and openness.

      Feingold held listening sessions in every Wisconsin county while a sitting U.S. senator. Walker has yet to hold one listening session. Not one.

  5. The guy did his job.

    Wish the so-called progressive Democrats would not keep holding him up as some sort of savior-to-come.

    Let the guy live his life and do his own thing, and do your part at your street level to get your neighborhood united first.