Monday, June 04, 2012

Catnip 6/4/12: Message of the Chalk


More Ogawa Plaza chalk art. They put one up, the city power-washes it off, the process starts again. One of these days I will get all the pictures together - at this point, they are scattered in folders as I have taken the random shot walking by, but there have been quite a few of them now, and they are very good. You'll see.

A bit 'o news.

Ezra tells us not to read too much into those jobs numbers; one report does not an economy make. So sayeth the people in the know: "We don't view the deceleration in employment over the past couple of months as the leading edge of a more pronounced and general weakness as it follows several months of stronger growth; some of the deceleration likely reflects payback from weather effects that boosted employment last winter," they wrote. And while they see substantial risks for the economy over the next few months, they think "the negative effects from these developments are offset, in part, by sharp reductions in energy prices that are boosting growth of real disposable personal income and adding support to our forecast for real consumer spending." Someone clue the media in, k?

And as Krugman tells us, if you are going to freak about the economy, then maybe we stop following the Republican prescription of more tax cuts and deregulation, and start applying some more stimulus. "So the Republican electoral strategy is, in effect, a gigantic con game: it depends on convincing voters that the bad economy is the result of big-spending policies that President Obama hasn’t followed (in large part because the G.O.P. wouldn’t let him), and that our woes can be cured by pursuing more of the same policies that have already failed." Dear God that's a frightening prospect, isn't it. Krugman also provides a very interesting chart on government spending and starts talking about 1937... seems we've seen this movie before.

Polling numbers on the economy hold the key, and ABC News has the goods on the latest. This is important, pay attention: "Americans who are more hopeful than anxious about the economy’s prospects pick Obama 59 percent to 37 percent for Romney. By contrast, those who are more anxious about the economy flock to Romney over Obama by a 61 percent to 33 percent margin. In our most recent poll, 57 percent of registered voters described themselves as 'more hopeful' compared to 39 percent who said they were 'more anxious' about the economy." So, it all comes down to whether or not America has a big anxiety attack over the economy at the end of October. Swell.

House Republicans reject cuts to energy programs. Yes, you read that right. An effort to eliminate the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy account at the Department of Energy went down to defeat last week. "Like other Republicans, McClintock argued that this account needlessly spends money on questionable private investments that have not led to any measurable returns. But the House rejected McClintock's amendment in a 113-275 vote, in which 113 Republicans voted for it but 107 Republicans joined every Democrat in opposition." Other amendments that sought huge cuts failed as well. But... but... but... Solyndra! Yeah, well, even Republicans like them some spending on energy efforts, so that makes Romney's line of attack a bunch of nonsense. Surprise!

House Republicans have set the highway bill on a crash-and-burn course though, denying construction jobs and much-needed repair to our infrastructure by trying to push the Keystone issue, which they recently said they would drop. Or something. Who knows at this point, it's all about the gridlock as a campaign weapon. Cantor promises to have it done, probably by taking it to the last minute (June 30th) and forcing the Democrats hand with a bad bill.

The final poll on Wisconsin: Walker 50, Barrett 47. This one is going to come down to turnout, period. From Sargent and PPP: "If the turnout operation Dems and labor insist are superior to that of Walker can make up the difference, and can replicate 2008 Dem turnout, Walker — who’s trailing among core Dem constituencies like women, minorities, and young voters — will be recalled. If not, his lead among men, whites, seniors and Milwaukee suburbanities will enable him to survive." Which very much parallels what may happen this November, demographically speaking.

Some interesting campaign advertising stats. Starting at April 10th, when Romney became the de facto nominee, "70 percent of all Democratic ads were positive, while a slightly greater percentage of Republican ads were negative. … Democratic presidential advertisers aired 35,936 ads. Of these, 70 percent (25,092) were positive and 30 percent (10,844) were negative. … Republican presidential advertisers aired 27,857 ads. Of these, 27 percent (7,584) were positive and 73 percent (20,273) were negative."

There's more, but I gotta run for now...