Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Democratic Party

Why Federal Stimulus is Always Too Small

We never seem to learn anything. The global economic crisis of 2008 should have taught us a lot about how governments cope with major economic shocks, but the level of analysis in 2020 has been abysmal. The Great Recession reduced US economic output by 4.2% and destroyed 8.7 million jobs. To counteract the loses, the federal government injected stimulus, first through the Bush administration’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and then through the Obama administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Combined, these two programs provided about $1.2 trillion. That’s about $285 billion per percentage of point of GDP. It wasn’t enough. The economy recovered very slowly, too slowly for the Obama administration to maintain public support. The Democrats lost the House decisively in 2010. Obama tried to get an additional $447 billion in 2011, but the Republicans had no interest in it. Instead, they pushed for deficit reduction. Obama tried to play nice with them, signing the Budget Control Act in August and making one last push for more stimulus in the Fall. They took his cookies. The second stimulus never happened. As the years went by, rural America continued to lose jobs, and grew more and more resentful, setting the stage for Donald Trump in 2016.

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The Quarantine is Failing because Our Institutions Weren’t Built For It

All around us, the quarantine is beginning to die. In the United States, the Southern states are slowly abandoning it and many Midwestern states are planning to follow. But it’s not just Republicans. The European states are bailing too. If you ask Democrats why states are beginning to defect, they will tell you it comes down to greed and stupidity. They’ll tell you the rich Republicans are greedy and the poor Republicans are stupid. But this policy was never a good fit for either the American or European political systems. To work, it needed a lot of economic support from regional authorities, and it never got that support.

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What I Think in 2020

Now that the Bernie Sanders movement is comprehensively failing, it is time for those of us who supported it to take a step back and reflect. We can only learn from defeat if we are willing to be honest with ourselves and recognise it as such. This post is more autobiographical than most of what I run here. The aim is to do some hard introspection about how I came to support the Sanders movement and where its downfall leaves me, politically.

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Iowa Shows that Sanders’ Gains in Cities Will Have a Cost in the Countryside

I’m fond of saying that there are three kinds of places American politicians need to win–cities, college towns, and the countryside. In 2016, the Sanders campaign did very well in the countryside and in college towns, but lost to Clinton in the cities. In 2020, the campaign has tried to reach Clinton voters in cities, but I’ve long feared this might come at a cost to Sanders’ appeal in the countryside. Iowa gives us the first real test of how the new Sanders campaign compares with the old. Now that more than 96% of precincts are reporting, we have enough data to see what has changed and what has stayed the same.

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Elizabeth Warren’s Medicare-For-All “Plan” is Pretend

After a great deal of prodding from both centrist and lefty critics, Elizabeth Warren finally put out her Medicare-For-All plan. The problem is that the plan is both unrealistic on its own terms and openly pretend. Let me show you how.

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