Politics, Moderate



The Green New Deal is make-believe

WASHINGTON -- The "Green New Deal" is upon us, and the question is what to make of it. The Democratic proposal mandates that, within a decade, virtually all fossil fuels -- which represent about four-fifths of the nation's energy supply -- shall be replaced with clean fuels that don't worsen global warming. Just how is this task to be ...Read more

The Social Security fantasy

WASHINGTON -- One of the great challenges of our time is to prevent Social Security and other programs for the elderly from taking over the national government. It may already be too late. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office reported that federal spending on the 65-plus population now amounts to 40 percent of non-interest outlays, up from ...Read more

Alfred E. Neuman's law of deficits: Let someone else worry about the future

WASHINGTON -- Let's coin a new law of politics. Call it Neuman's Law after Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine fame, whose philosophy is, "What, me worry?" Neuman's Law postulates that there is never a good time to raise taxes or cut federal spending. This explains why, since 1961, the annual federal budget has been in deficit 52 times and in ...Read more

Job creation is job one

WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome ("Jay") Powell didn't waste much time getting to the point at last week's press conference. "My colleagues and I have one overarching goal: to sustain the economic expansion, with a strong job market and stable prices, for the benefit of the American people," he said.

It was a statement purged of ...Read more

The debt -- still out of control

WASHINGTON -- At the start of every year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) publishes its annual "The Budget and Economic Outlook," a tome full of statistics, tables and charts. Frankly, it's easy to get swamped by the numbers. To make sense of the report, I've selected five takeaways that capture the main points.

(1) The U.S. economy is in...Read more

Defense spending is less than you think -- here's why

WASHINGTON -- Whenever I or someone else suggests that we need higher defense spending, there is an incredulous response from critics: U.S. military spending equals the outlays of the next eight countries combined; how can we possibly be spending too little when we spend so much more than any conceivable adversary? The answer is that, ...Read more

Global warming forever?

WASHINGTON -- On global climate change, I've changed my mind -- just slightly.

I've written about this issue for more than two decades, and my theme has been monotonously consistent. As a starting point, I've accepted the prevailing scientific view that man-made greenhouse gases contribute to global warming.

But I've been routinely pessimistic...Read more

Will the global credit boom go bust?

WASHINGTON -- We are in the midst of a worldwide credit boom that may be without precedent. The debt explosion suggests that the global economy -- all the national economies combined -- is being driven heavily by massive government and private borrowing.

Is this debt buildup stable? Or is it the harbinger of a sharp economic slowdown or crash? ...Read more

What Sears and GE's decline teaches us about capitalism

WASHINGTON -- General Electric and Sears have fallen on hard times, and that tells us a lot about U.S capitalism. Both were once great enterprises -- symbols of American ingenuity and imagination. The temptation will be to blame their troubles on mismanagement. The real lesson is starker. It is that no business, no matter how historically ...Read more

Why China clings to state capitalism

WASHINGTON -- American officials traveled to China this week in an effort to end the bitter trade war between the two countries. The main obstacle to a settlement is natural rivalry: The United States is trying to protect its position as the most important superpower; and China is serving notice that it covets that status for itself.

What ...Read more

The euro -- still vulnerable after all these years

WASHINGTON -- On its 20th birthday, the best that can be said of the euro -- the European currency used by 19 countries -- is that it has survived. Two decades after being introduced in 1999, it has not achieved its central goals: increasing economic growth and strengthening public support for European political institutions.

In many ways, just...Read more

Our unhappy new year

EDITORS: Please insert the attached table between the 5th and 6th grafs. Also, please note that Robert J. Samuelson is taking a one-column vacation. His next column will move Friday, Jan. 4, for release Monday, Jan. 7.

WASHINGTON -- As we enter 2019, the question that looms over America is simple: Can we govern? The answer is no. Unless this ...Read more

The myth of American military invincibility

WASHINGTON -- The most uncovered story in Washington these days is the loss of U.S. military power -- a lesson particularly important in light of recent events: the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis; President Trump's insane decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria; North Korea's announcement that it will keep nuclear weapons after ...Read more

Good luck to the Fed

WASHINGTON -- The nine-year economic recovery is dead. Long live the recovery.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) -- the Federal Reserve's main policymaking body -- meets this week to decide whether or not to raise interest rates. No matter what it does, the decision is likely to be criticized.

Since late 2015, the Fed has increased ...Read more

The Fed's latest worry

WASHINGTON -- Pay attention to the financial markets.

If the Great Recession and 2008-09 financial crisis taught us anything, that was it. Until then, the Federal Reserve had focused mainly on fighting inflation and unemployment. What we learned is that overborrowing, shaky mortgages and inflated stock and home prices could also plunge the ...Read more

More data exposing the income stagnation myth

WASHINGTON -- We in the media have a problem. Actually, it's a big problem for all of us. We have become addicted to the notion that, except for the top 1 percent or the top 10 percent, the incomes of most Americans have stagnated for decades. The problem is that, at best, this is an exaggeration and, at worst, an untruth.

A few weeks back, I ...Read more

The stock market decline means ... what?

WASHINGTON -- The stock market giveth; the stock market taketh away.

With Wednesday a federal holiday to honor former President George H.W. Bush, the U.S. stock and bond markets will be closed until Dec. 6. But there's no moratorium on wondering what the effects of Tuesday's dramatic market sell-off -- almost 800 points on the Dow, or more than...Read more

Trump vs. the Fed

WASHINGTON -- President Trump, do yourself a favor. Stop attacking the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jerome Powell (yes, the same Powell you nominated). The result would be better for you, better for Powell and -- most important -- better for the country.

Unfortunately, Trump can't seem to restrain himself. The Fed has been raising short-...Read more

Are China and the U.S. locked in a permanent trade war?

WASHINGTON -- The United States-China trade war goes on ... and on and on.

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to meet later this week in Argentina at a summit meeting of the G-20 -- roughly speaking, the world's 20 most important economies. The object is to halt the war. Larry Kudlow, director of the White ...Read more

Was the Great Recession worse than the Great Depression?

WASHINGTON -- Here's today's economic quiz: Was the 2007-09 Great Recession more damaging than the Great Depression of the 1930s? Surely the answer is "no." In the 1930s, unemployment reached 25 percent. By contrast, the recent peak in the jobless rate was 10 percent. Case closed.

Not so fast, objects economist J. Bradford DeLong of the ...Read more


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