DeFazio: Larry Summers is "anti-infrastructure"; the President is not.

Carla Axtman

Yesterday on Rachel Maddow's show, Oregon Democratic Congressman Peter DeFazio discussed the current stimulus package's proposed spending, declaring that the infrastructure spending provisions are inadequate. There are a number of economists who've had this thing wrong, including Larry Summers.

DeFazio is on Maddow's show doing what he does best, speak up even when its going to cause some heat.

This clip is unnecessarily long so if you're looking to watch DeFazio, start at about the 3:30 mark:


More of this, please.

Comments

  • HMM (unverified)
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    I wonder what this might imply about Summer's promises to Merkley that Merkley uses to rationalize his vote for the second $350 billion of the TARP funds (and that Merkley is trying to misrepresent as promises by Obama)?

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    HMM: Are you saying that Summers sends assurances on policy changes to U.S. Senators autonomously without the approval or knowledge of the President?

    DeFazio is saying that Summers is a poor advisor to Obama based on his anti-infrastructure views. I think DeFazio is right. I also think its right for our federal legislators to exact assurances from the Administration for better policy as long as they will see those changed through--and I find it dubious that this would take place without the President's specific approval.

    Please grind your Merkley axe elsewhere.

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    The devil’s in the detail. There are good tax cuts, like reducing the payroll tax or tax withholdings, that could put money in the pockets of consumers right away, and that consumers would probably then spend quickly. And, of course, there are bad tax cuts for special interests or that would not get spent. But the same is true for infrastructure projects. Some are good and build the kind of future we want. Some are just pork.

    We cannot build the transportation system of the future without a substantial, revenue neutral gas tax. To get mass transit ridership up, for example we need to make driving cars more expensive and give consumers choices. Without a gas tax, some of the mass transit infrastructure projects are a waste, just pork because not enough people will ride them.

    Larry Summers is a smart man. I worry about some of the anti-economist rhetoric coming from some in the Democratic Party. It is reminiscent to me of the anti-global warming scientist rhetoric from the right. It is not good. Let deal with the actual arguments and evidence.

    I like the emphasis on health, education, and other funding for states. It makes no sense to be laying off teachers, police, firefighters, and other state and local government workers while building roads, bridges, and buildings that we were not willing to fund earlier.

    For under $5 million in one time costs during the next year, we could invigorate the world language programs in our public schools statewide with 20 more immersion programs. I cannot think of a higher priority for our economic future in the global economy of the 21st century. Where's such a proposal?

    As Democrats, we need to get this stimulus right.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Larry Summers is a smart man.

    You may want to think this over.

    For more search Truthdig dot com

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Now, this, is sounding like FDR. I think Summers is moving toward having a similar relationship with Obama as FDR's NRA administrator, Hugh Johnson, did with FDR.

    BTW, I agree with DeFazio, as is usually the case.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Now, this, is sounding like FDR. I think Summers is moving toward having a similar relationship with Obama as FDR's NRA administrator, Hugh Johnson, did with FDR.

    and with Robert Rubin the new Bernard Baruch.

    Thanks for the link to Hugh Johnson, Z. Very interesting.

  • YoungOregonMoonbat (unverified)
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    The fundamental problem with "Free Trade " is that it assumes that there are the same labor policies between the countries.

    Recent history has shown that assumption to be complete bunk:

    1. China tinkers with its' currency to make US imports more expensive and Chinese exports cheap as all get out.

    2. Trading partners such as Canada, Europe and other countries have labor policies that protect their workers and industries, while the past two decades during the mantra of "limited government, deregulation, and laissez faire" has only expedited the US corporation abdicating it's proper role in building the wealth of our nation in favor of short term quarterly profits.

    Adam Smith titled it the Wealth of Nations, not the Wealth of the Corporation and its shareholders.

    The fundamental problem with the US economy is that we:

    1. Have a one-size fits all K-12 Educational system that assumes that all kids are college bound.

    2. Like the British did during their imperial reign, we have come to care more about low prices, than retaining a solid blue collar tax base that those kids who do not go to college can easily slide into after high school.

    3. A complete gutting of the trades in the community colleges.

    4. The prevalence of regulation by industry insiders who take jobs in the industry that they regulate after their regulatory gig is up.

    5. The allowing of US corporations to harbor assets offshore deliberately to avoid paying taxes on them.

    Here is my solution:

    1. Throw out the "one size fits all" K-12 Education and force kids during their freshman year of high school to decide whether they are college bound or would rather take a trade.

    2. Fund and encourage the trades in community colleges.

    3. Pass a law stating that if a corporation created in the US or a corporation with two-thirds of it's total sales has more than 15% of it's assets overseas, then it will have to pay a 25 to 50% tariff on every good that it wants to sell here in the USA.

    4. When someone takes a regulation job, then have them sign a waiver that they will not be able to take a job in the industry that they regulated until 2 years have passed since their last day of work as a regulator.

    I don't see how "free trade" has ever been the savior of a standing superpower. I see free trade as the weapon of the developing nation to usurp the manufacturing base from that superpower whose goods they produce. If you look at the downfall of the British Empire you can see the slide downward first marked by the outsourcing of their manufacturing to the 13 colonies, India, on up until with virtually no manufacturing base and two world wars completed the cycle of the UK becoming a socialist state.

    I could be wrong, correct me if I am :)

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    1. Throw out the "one size fits all" K-12 Education and force kids during their freshman year of high school to decide whether they are college bound or would rather take a trade.

    Most of your points have merit, but the item above is self-contradictory. There is much to be said for throwing out "one size fits all" but the proposal to "force kids" to decide at any specific time implies the "one size fits all" plan. Several of my classmates decided on careers during their high school years but changed to happier careers in their late 20s and early 30s. I know of a young man who seemed set on a career as a doctor but discovered in college it wasn't what he thought it would be. Others can't make seem to make up their minds, but after graduation from high school and drifting around (sometimes overseas) they settle down into some career they never previously thought of.

    Unfortunately, it is a pity Obama's economic team settled for careers in economics when they might have been more useful as plumbers or ditch diggers.

  • YoungOregonMoonbat (unverified)
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    Bill Bodden,

    Yeah it is contradictory in the language that I use is alien to our unthinking, unwavering belief individualism where we believe that the individual can change their life at any point. I apologize for not editing prior to posting.

    The main point I was trying to make is that we need to realize that out of 100 kids in an average graduating class, only about 33 of them will go to college right out of high school. I surmise that another 10 to 15 will go to a community college for varying reasons.

    We need to provide those 50 to 66 remaining high school graduates with a good paying trade that allows them to support society with their tax dollars other than being a minimum wage barista for some aging member of the Silent Generation or Baby Boomer.

    This economy that we are migrating to where there is the "creative", educated class of white collar workers and service workers will not bode well for society and will lead to serious problems if it is not honestly dealt with.

    Those blue collar workers (deride them all you want for their preference to drink Schlitz over wine) for the bulk the 20th century paid for the New Deal and Great Society programs that we take for granted today. We absolutely need to build up their numbers again through pumping more money into the trade professions via community colleges.

    That is my point.

  • Hmm... (unverified)
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    HMM: Are you saying that Summers sends assurances on policy changes to U.S. Senators autonomously without the approval or knowledge of the President?

    Merkley got bupkus because the letter wasn't from Obama and what Summers says or promises is meaningless UNLESS Summers is Obama's man. Merkley, on the other hand, is shameless in being out there trying to deceive people arguing otherwise.

    So to those of you with some sense about you: What would it say about Obama if Summers is Obama's man as would have to be the case for Merkley's claims to even have a modicum of credibility?

    -and I find it dubious that this would take place without the President's specific approval.

    Like anything an absolute an irrelevancy like you has to say means anything at all.

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    I agree with YOM's second comment.

  • ron king (unverified)
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    DeFazio has a long history of standing up against even when it unpopular.

    I remember years ago when he voted against a bill the would have given body armor to our troops in Iraq. He correctly pointed out the high cost and how wasteful it would be.

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    Merkley got bupkus because the letter wasn't from Obama and what Summers says or promises is meaningless UNLESS Summers is Obama's man. Merkley, on the other hand, is shameless in being out there trying to deceive people arguing otherwise.

    Summers is a key policy advisor for Obama by Obama's choice. By definition, that makes him "Obama's man".

    HMM--you're saying that the guy chosen by the President to be a senior economic policy advisor is autonomously and without the knowledge of the POTUS sending out policy letters to U.S. Senators. And that its a giant conspiracy by Merkley to lie to the people.

    This is extensively stupid.

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    This morning:

    The Obama administration plans to move quickly to tighten the nation’s financial regulatory system. Officials say they will make wide-ranging changes, including stricter federal rules for hedge funds, credit rating agencies and mortgage brokers, and greater oversight of the complex financial instruments that contributed to the economic crisis.
    It's about time.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    Moonbat (great "handle" by the way), you raise some interesting points about the dignity of skilled labor etc., but I think your comparison to the UK is flawed by lack of understanding of the British educational system. Unlike the US, the UK has only very recently started to have anything similar to our community colleges, which are the primary option in our society for people who decide as adults to get on a different career track. And if you visit a British university, you will most definitely not see anything remotely resembling the Portland State University student body; instead, you will see a homogeneous group of 18 to 21 year olds.

    And the British model is pretty much what one sees around the industrialized world.

    It's a tremendous irony that countries with strong, viable socialist movements in fact have educational systems that reinforce class stratification, whereas the US, with our nonexistent socialist movement and weak labor unions, has community colleges and other options for people to gain an education and/or a skill that will let them move up the ladder.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Young Oregon Moonbat: As I said I agreed with much of your first comment, other than the one I took exception to, and I agree with most of your response to my comment.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    and with Robert Rubin the new Bernard Baruch.

    That's pretty funny, except that it's not. Well, at least this time a Bush can't slip into the picture quietly like Prescott did then.

    I would think of Moonbat's question asked to the economic powers that be. Do they not know that? It all makes sense if you think ahead to one world government, then it would work. The inequalities actually become an argument for greater alignment among governments. Not saying one way or the other, but it's my answer to "what are they thinking?".

    The UK is learning right now that the tail can't wag the dog, no matter how strong it is. Just got an email from a friend in Leicester saying that their monthly sales figures have never been stronger, their workforce has never been leaner, smarter or meaner, and there's virtually no business. Practically shuttering the shops. Without the banking system, they're all dressed up with no place to go. Ireland demonstrated that you can be stuck there for decades, until the system becomes hospitable to business. The banking reforms are absolutely central. Schlitz I'm not too sure about.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Unlike the US, the UK has only very recently started to have anything similar to our community colleges, which are the primary option in our society for people who decide as adults to get on a different career track.

    I spent several years in Britain and had a number of friends who made career changes in their late 20s and early 30s through the British equivalent of community colleges. Two of those friends were tradesmen who became teachers. That was in the 1960s.

    It's a tremendous irony that countries with strong, viable socialist movements in fact have educational systems that reinforce class stratification,...

    The British Labour Party introduced a program years ago that made it possible for students to attend colleges and universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, that would have been out of reach for their parents. Anyone who was aware of how class was so stratified in Britain in the mid-20th Century will appreciate the decline of class as a factor since then. (1)(2) Note the emphasis on "decline." Class is still a problem in Britain as it has become here in the United States.

    (1) Among my British friends was the son of a tradesman and a cleaning lady who became a top manager in a large British corporation and a director on a couple of corporate boards in the 1980s. That would have been thought impossible when he was a child in the 1930s. The last time I met him in the 1990s he was the same democratic person socializing with his old friends as equals without any airs of class. Opposite examples could be cited, but there were many people like my friend.

    (2) If you watch British TV and movies you will find many prominent characters from the working class. Michael Caine is but one example. Graduates of "upper class" schooling working as presenters (anchors) boast of friendships with sports stars who came from the working class. In some cases it may be that they wouldn't want these celebrities marrying their sisters or daughters, but the fact that they like to be seen with them is another example of the declining importance of class.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    Re: "I don't see how "free trade" has ever been the savior of a standing superpower. I see free trade as the weapon of the developing nation to usurp the manufacturing base from that superpower whose goods they produce."

    The 2002 U.S. National Security Strategy defines the U.S.'s historical task as advancing the "single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise" along with "development, free trade, and free markets."

    But these presumed "freedoms" are based on the heavily state-protected and publicly subsidized power of corporations and the financial industry, and the military empire required to advance and protect their profits.

    The U.S. and all other rich nations that I know of gained their economic dominance through protectionism, which we seek to deny others through so-called "free trade" models. "Free trade" is thus a method that "standing superpowers" have of dominating developing nations' economic systems.

    "...the principle of really existing free market theory is: free markets are fine for you, but not for me. That's, again, near a universal. So you -- whoever you may be -- you have to learn responsibility, and be subjected to market discipline, it's good for your character, it's tough love, and so on, and so forth. But me, I need the nanny State, to protect me from market discipline, so that I'll be able to rant and rave about the marvels of the free market, while I'm getting properly subsidized and defended by everyone else, through the nanny State. And also, this has to be risk-free. So I'm perfectly willing to make profits, but I don't want to take risks. If anything goes wrong, you bail me out." (Free Market Fantasies: Capitalism in the Real World)

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Juan Cole dot com has a link to "a web site where American voters can give campaign support to those who declined to jump through AIPAC's hoops and did not assent to a resolution, the purpose of which was to garner support for this dirty war." This includes Oregon's de Fazio and Blumenauer.

    If the people want a government that represents them they will need to elect representatives and senators who will do that. That includes letting these representatives and senators know they are appreciated when they do the right thing. Instead of spending millions electing presidents the people would be much better off spending thousands on the right people to send to Congress.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Amen, Bill. I always liked Burrhus Frederic Skinner's maxim that traffic laws would be more effectively enforced if we gave positive reinforcement to people that stopped at stop signs as well as punishing those that don't. (And that's the only good thing you'll ever hear me say about B.F. Skinner).

  • Stephen Amy (unverified)
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    As regards Bill Bodden's comment: true, Blumenauer and DeFazio voted "present" on the Gaza resolution (20 reps did so. Five actually had the guts to vote against mass murder). So, is this the barometer of moral courage in the Dem Party? A vote of "present"?

    The situation is outrageous. Any investigation of the facts will show that Israel broke the ceasefire and has committed (due to blockade) and continues to commit crimes against humanity and war crimes.

    Show me a pol who'll be protesting the AIPAC meeting on 3/29 and they will then deserve congrats (or, at least, be willing to vote against rather than merely "present").

    As for Larry Summers, I assume he's doing the President's bidding. It isn't possible that Summers could be staking out positions that Obama himself doesn't hold. What could possibly make anyone think otherwise?

    And we'll see what Obama/Summers/Pelosi have in store at the mid-Feb. summit on fiscal policy. Summers has called for cuts in Social Security benefits and Pelosi has said these are "on the table" (impeachment is "off the table" but cuts to SS are "on the table"?).

    The Democratic Party: continuing to be a shell of its former self.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    <h2>Stephen Amy speaks for me, except that I don't remember a time when the DP was a shell of its former self.</h2>

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