Larry Mishel

When Politico declared a consensus on how to fix the economy, they forgot to call some folks—say, economists. So, we made the calls for them.

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The most important thing to understand about the Republican jobs agenda is that it's not really a jobs agenda. That sounds simplistic and harsh, but I think it's true, at least if you buy into the mainstream economic consensus. According to that consensus, the only way to boost growth significantly in the short run is to increase demand. That requires some sort of stimulus -- that is, some combination of public works spending, aid to state governments, and targeted but temporary tax breaks.

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The debate over teacher pay is nothing new. And neither are the arguments about assumptions and methodologies. How do you assign a value to pensions and health benefits? How do you count the time teachers spend working outside the classroom or during summers? How do you factor in job protections and possibilities for advancement? If you want a lengthy, detailed version of the debate, I highly recommend a 2005 exchange between economists Larry Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute* and Michael Podgursky of the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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Slander

WASHINGTON—What does President Obama think of those who fought and bled to pass his bills in Congress (in some cases losing in this year's election for their pains) while also defending him against wild charges from the right wing?

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Most liberal economists now believe the economic stimulus was too small. I'm inclined to believe them. But exactly how much difference would a larger stimulus have made? Pretend Obama had gotten a stimulus that was twice as large, somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion. What would the economy look like today? To get something like an upper bound on that question, I put it to some well-known advocates of stimulus spending--like Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Here's what he said: As a first approximation, try multiplying everything by 2.

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Holland, Michigan, is a city of about 34,000 people in the state's southwestern corner, right on the lakeshore and close enough to Chicago to receive its radio broadcasts. Dutch immigrants established the city, as the name suggests, and many of their descendants remain. Lots of people go by the name Vander-something and the annual tulip festival attracts thousands visitors every May, helping to buoy an upscale downtown shopping area that, at least on Thursday, was bustling with activity. But the appearance is misleading.

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You've heard it a million times: The problem with President Obama is that he hasn't spent enough time talking about jobs. Maybe that's true and maybe that isn't. But the last 24 hours has me wondering whether anybody is even listening. The administration on Wednesday released another report on the economic recovery, such that it is. By its accounting, the stimulus package Obama and the Democrats passed in 2009 created between 2.5 and 3.6 million jobs, raising gross domestic product between 2.7 and 3.2 percent.

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[Chart from Calculated Risk] The experts said today's job report would bring bad news. The experts were right. From the New York Times: The United States added just 83,000 private-sector jobs in June, a dishearteningly low number that could add to the growing number of economists who warn that the economic recovery is stalling. Over all, the nation lost 125,000 jobs, according to the monthly snapshot of the job market released by the Labor Department on Friday.

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Desperate Times

WASHINGTON -- So now we know: The economic stimulus plan passed by Congress at the beginning of the year was not big enough. We also know this: Once it secures a health care bill--yes, it will get one--the Obama administration from that moment to the 2010 midterm elections will be all about jobs, jobs, jobs. In the face of persistently high unemployment, the administration's economic advisers have been reviewing proposals to create jobs, and President Obama's aides insist they knew all along that the original stimulus, as one of them put it, would "never fill the full gap from the recession."

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