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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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The Bush tax cuts need to stay in place

And no matter what you call it, any move to take money out of the economy, isn’t going to help matters. 

Back in 2001 and 2003, President George W. Bush proposed an across the board series of tax reductions. These included reductions in the income tax rate, taxes on dividends, taxes on capital gains, and taxes on married couples. The latter, which benefited more than just high earners was a cut in the despised “marriage tax.”
They also included new tax credits for savings intended for education and retirement. The president and many Republicans in Congress made the case that the economy was starting to slow down after the shock of Sept. 11 and we needed the tax cuts to stave off a recession. Further, since, they were temporary, their impact on the deficit, while significant, wasn’t necessarily permanent. They came with an expiration date of December 2010.

Read more: The Bush tax cuts need to stay in place

The “Contract from America” is not Gingrich’s “Contract with America”

For many Republicans election 2010 is beginning to feel a lot like 1994.  That was the year, in one of the most sea changing elections since the end of World War II, that the Republicans took control of the Congress.  But they did more than win a majority.  Unlike their 1946 and 1952 victories when they won a majority only to lose it a couple of years later, this time, the GOP’s hold on both Houses of Congress lasted twelve years. It came to an end in 2006. With the midterms just a few weeks away, it’s getting down to counting seats. It will take a shift of forty seats in the House of Representatives to give the GOP control. The Senate is in the realm of possibility, but the prospect of an outright takeover remains a little more remote.

Read more: The “Contract from America” is not Gingrich’s “Contract with America”

When does the recovery start? Or does it?

I keep hoping we will find that magic turning point when our national economy clearly and perceptibly begins to improve.  We see hints.  Consumer sentiment shows a slight uptick.  Though sadly, it was grim to begin with.  Durable goods orders go up a little.  That’s good news and new claims for unemployment insurance are down a little.  But all of this is like background noise.  It doesn’t represent a profound or decisive trend.  What’s more, this recession, unlike most, just doesn’t want to end.  I don’t know when a recession becomes a depression.  Maybe things need to get a lot worse before that word can be used, but we’ve had a half dozen recessions since the end of World War II and this one is by far the worst.

Read more: When does the recovery start? Or does it?

Who will take on Obama in 2012?

The midterm elections, if you’re a Democrat, aren’t shaping up well. The worst case scenarios project losses that at the very least are going to cost the Democrats control of the House of Representatives. Even more dire predictions suggest they could lose control of the Senate. The latter isn’t likely, but enough pieces seem to be coming into place to make it a possibility.
Unless there is a turnaround, the day after Election Day is going to be glum for the Democrats. There will be a lot of explaining, endless analysis, Fox TV will be joyful, and there will promises from the White House stoically expressing their willingness to work with the new majority. Under almost any scenario President Barack Obama will have to develop a new approach to dealing with Congress.

Read more: Who will take on Obama in 2012?

Putting things right

In the 1980’s I worked for the Corps of Engineers at the Pentagon. It was a demanding job and I was going to school at night getting an MBA. Not having a full night’s sleep just became a matter of course. However, this was nothing to complain about. The Army was picking up the tab. But this was the Army, and each course I took involved a complex set of forms and approvals.  There was a lot of bureaucracy involved in sending me to school.
That’s where Jenny (for purposes of the privacy of her family, this wasn’t her real name) comes in. Back in those days she was our administrative officer. She was young, my age, and I might add, rather nice to look at. Next to the General she was the most important person in the office. If you wanted to travel, buy new equipment, upgrade a position, or, in my case, do a degree program, she made it happen.   

Read more: Putting things right

Were we saved by a microbe in the Gulf oil spill?

The Gulf oil spill released as much as 38 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. The oil well gushed oil for 87 days. The well, at long last, has been sealed and that was no small feat. But the real question was what to do with the oil.  
How could any ecosystem, no matter how large, possibly absorb that much oil?  
There was even speculation that after it had wreaked havoc on the Gulf that this massive plume would then make its way up the Atlantic Coast. What can I say?  All the scenarios were bad. There was no way the cleanup technologies we have at the moment, which for the most part amount to booms and souped up Shopvacs could possibly handle it. But then, along came a microbe. It is a bit of bacteria, just a few microns wide, that likes to eat oil.

Read more: Were we saved by a microbe in the Gulf oil spill?

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