Rob Shapiro


The GOP's Early Response to Obama Has Been Catastrophic

The weekly Kos track is out, and the central dynamic of this new political year remains unchanged: Barack Obama has become a towering and popular figure, the Democratic Party retains its relatively strong position, and the already unpopular GOP had paid a heavy price for opposing the President in his efforts to lead America to recovery.  

I've been writing about how one of the central stories of the new Obama era would be how the GOP struggled with the new realities of this new political era. With the rise of Rush, the struggles of Steele, the disapointment of Jindal, the lack of any attractive savior on the horizon and the just plain irresponsibility and awfulness of their Congressional leaders in a time of national crisis the GOP truly appears to be a political party facing a long road back.  

Remember, in this Kos poll Obama is at 69, Boehner 15.  The Congressional Dems are at 45, the Congressional GOP is at 15.  There can be no other conclusion than this early engagement with the President has been catastrophic for the GOP, and that they will need to find a new way to work with the President.  

Rob Shapiro has a great new essay on the inanity of the GOP's emerging economic arguments, and I discussed all this with Norah O'Donnell on MSNBC earlier this week.

10am Update: From a new Newsweek poll getting a lot of attention this morning: 

Despite the tumbling economy, Barack Obama continues to enjoy a honeymoon with the American public in the face of the most trying crisis any newly inaugurated president has encountered since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The GOP, meanwhile, is viewed by a majority of Americans as the party of "no," without a plan of its own to fix the economy, and even rank-and-file Republicans are concerned about the party's direction, according to the first NEWSWEEK Poll taken since Obama assumed office.

"People give Obama credit for reaching out to Republicans, but they don't see Republicans reciprocating," says pollster Larry Hugick, whose firm conducted the survey. "A surprising number said bipartisanship is more important than getting things done."

Overall, 58 percent of Americans surveyed approve of the job Obama is doing, while 26 percent disapprove and one in six (16 percent) has no opinion. Although his approval ratings are down from levels seen a few weeks ago in other polls, 72 percent of Americans still say they have a favorable opinion of Obama-a higher rating than he received in NEWSWEEK Polls during the presidential campaign last year. The president's rating in this poll is consistent with estimates provided by other national media polls in the last week.

NDN on Your TeeVee

If your television has a dial, turn that dial to Fox News, where Dr. Rob Shapiro, Chair of NDN's Globalization Initiative will be talking about President Obama's brand new budget at 12:10 pm today.

He'll be squaring off with Rep. John Kasich, who ran the House Budget Commitee when he was in congress. It promises to be an epic duel.

UPDATE:  Rob showed Rep. Kasich who was boss.  We'll have a video up soon!

NDN's Robert Shapiro on Marketplace

NDN Globalization Initiative Chair Dr. Robert J. Shapiro spoke yesterday on Marketplace, the daily radio show by American Public Media.  Shapiro talked about the strain this proposed bailout will put on the agenda of the next president. The full transcript is below, as well as a link to the audio of the interview.

KAI RYSSDAL: Amid all the uncertainty about how this bailout's going to work, commentator and economist Robert Shapiro points out that $700 billion is a whole lot of money not to have.

ROBERT SHAPIRO: Whatever we do, this bailout will use up virtually all of the resources the next president needs to bring about whatever changes he's envisioning.

That's because the government will need those resources to buy up all those devalued mortgage-backed securities and their derivatives.

The direct costs of buying up all those falling securities will come over the next several months. But any revenues the Treasury eventually recoups from selling them back to the market? That won't happen for years, if ever.

And that leaves the next president facing a deficit of $600 billion to $700 billion, maybe more.

There goes the money for President Obama to expand health care coverage, or for President McCain to cut corporate taxes or extend President Bush's tax cuts for wealthy people.

And next, President Obama may have to trade off a major push on alternative fuels against those new tax cuts for the middle class.

While President McCain may have to give up extending tax relief for dividends or the funding for his educational reforms.

Both candidates also may face a version of the dilemma European leaders faced in the 1960s and 1970s, when they gave up plans to maintain strong military spending in order to elaborate their social welfare protections.

Here, this time, the next president's promises to expand the Army may well give way to new subsidies not for poor or working people, but for the financial institutions that once presided so proudly over the global economy.

Since most of the bailout's costs should come in the next two years or so, they shouldn't constrain the new president's longer-term plans for perhaps one major initiative. That is if he still has any public support left after failing to deliver on all those other promises he's making right now. 

Listen here to the audio of Shapiro's interview.


McCain's Real Record on Fiscal Discipline: Lots of "Straight Talk;" No Action to Back it Up

When there’s a dispute in sports, we go to the videotape; in politics, we go to the facts – and the facts show that for all of John McCain’s righteous wrath over federal spending, he has been an active supporter of its enormous increases in recent years.

It’s fine to talk about pork barrel spending, but let’s look at his actual votes on all Senate appropriations bills for domestic spending since he started running for president. 

New research shows that since 2006, the self-appointed guardian against wasteful spending from Arizona actually opposed less than six-tenths of one percent of the discretionary spending approved by the Senate. Counting only those appropriations during which Mr. McCain was actually present and voted for or against, he opposed eight-tenths of one percent and voted for 99.2 percent. And counting only the last two years, while Mr. McCain has been most actively campaigning for president, the self-proclaimed arbiter of fiscal restraint actually voted against not one dollar of the more than $2 trillion in appropriations approved by the Senate.

Senator McCain’s record seems to refute his own campaign promises to balance the budget and pay for the new tax cuts he wants to give business and high-income Americans – and for his new spending – by cutting existing programs.

Here are the particulars as verified by the Senate’s records. For FY 2006, Senator McCain opposed one appropriation bill, $17 billion for discretionary spending in agriculture, out of a total of $940 billion in discretionary spending approved for that fiscal year, or 0.56 percent. For FY 2007, the Senate approved nearly $1.1 trillion in discretionary appropriations, and Senator McCain voted for all of it. For the current fiscal year, 2008, the Senate has approved, again, a little under $1.1 trillion; and again, Senator McCain opposed none of it, at least not by actually voting against any of it.

The economic benefits of restraining spending are sometimes exaggerated in our political discourse, especially when economic conditions are weak. However, the value of actually behaving in ways that correspond to your own “straight talk” cannot be overstated. On this basis, Senator McCain’s record falls painfully short.

Great event today, more coming up

NDN has a very aggressive schedule over the next few weeks. I'll be involved in many of these events, and am excited to reconnect with many of you.

Today in DC, we host an excellent event on how the most important medium of politics, television, is changing. It will showcase a remarkable panel of experts, including the head of audience research for TiVo, who among other things, will be discussing the impact of DVRs on how people are now relating to their TV. You won't want to miss this one.

Next Monday, I will be in New York hosting a forum on the growing power of the Millennial Generation, the largest generation in American history. Joining us will be Morley Winograd and Mike Hais, the two authors of a critically acclaimed new book, Millennial Makeover, and the man who introduced us to the whole Millennial concept, something NPI has done a great job promoting the last few years. Also joining us will be two people who work closely with Millennials, Jon Schnur of New Leaders for New Schools and Alicia Menendez of Rock the Vote.

The following Monday, May 5, again in New York City, I will be hosting a Bernard Schwartz Forum on Economic Policy that will celebrate the compelling new book of our Globalization Initiative Chairman, Dr. Robert Shapiro. Rob's book is a far-reaching look at how the world is likely to play out over the next 15 to 20 years, and the forum will be a discussion you won't want to miss. It will also be a good opportunity to talk politics and look at what is happening on the national stage these days.

Finally, I'll be back in DC on May 9, where Peter Leyden and I will be hosting a day-long working session on the important new tools and new audiences critical to 21st century politics. This event will feature several plenary sessions but will also include 10 or so breakouts to help our family drill down further on specific tools or demographics you might want to learn more about. We've got a terrifc line up of speakers and panelists, which you won't want to miss.

Of course there is more than even all this. We are hosting U.S. Rep. Barney Frank on May 20 here in DC, and have many more events in the hopper that we hope to announce soon. Additionally, the able NDN/NPI team is producing a great deal of new and dynamic content each day, which is best viewed here on our blog.

So keep coming back here, and I hope to catch many of you at our many interesting events over the next few weeks.


As the economy slows, keeping the focus on the struggle of every day people

Lots of stories today about the terrible jobs report, and what this means for the marcoeconomy. David Leonhardt from the Times does a terrific job today putting all this news in perspective, and reminds us that far too many Americans had not shared in the wealth created in the Bush era:

If history is a reliable guide, the recession of 2008 is now unavoidable.

The dismal jobs report released Friday showed overall employment to be lower than it was three months ago. Every time such a slump has occurred since the early 1970s, a recession has followed - or already been under way.

And if the good times have really ended, they were never that good to begin with. Most American households are still not earning as much annually as they did in 1999, once inflation is taken into account. Since the Census Bureau began keeping records in the 1960s, a prolonged expansion has never ended without household income having set a new record...

Recent recessions have inevitably brought inflation-adjusted income declines for most families, which would be particularly painful given what has happened over the last decade. For a variety of reasons that economists only partly understand - including technological change and global trade - many workers have received only modest raises in recent years, despite healthy economic growth.

The median household earned $48,201 in 2006, down from $49,244 in 1999, according to the Census Bureau. It now looks as if a full decade may pass before most Americans receive a raise.

What this all means for economic policy is that whatever set of policies are put into place to put the economy back on track they must be capable of addressing the struggle experienced by every day people prior to the current slowdown/recession. Offering up such a strategy has been at the heart of our economic work at NDN these past several years, and based on our recent major survey of American public opinion, is what Americans are desperately looking for. Looking back at the exit polls in 2006, there is even a very strong case that it was unhappiness with the economy that was the primary cause of the extraordinary GOP defeat in the fall elections.

Some highlights of what we've been advocating for:

A New Economic Strategy for America that makes globalization work for all Americans - In a recent paper Rob Shapiro argues that America needs a comprehensive new economic strategy, one that tackles rising health care and energy costs, accelerates innovation and makes significant investment in human capital and infrastructure.

A More Modern Approach to Trade Liberalization - In a major paper about the future of US trade policy, Rob Shapiro and I argue for a a continued commitment to global liberalization but only if coupled with a substantial new domestic approach to help those struggling with globalization prosper.

A New Committment to 21st Century Skills - In two papers, a Laptop in Every Backpack and Tapping the Resources of America's Community Colleges, NDN makes the case for a new national strategy to ensure that all Americans have the capacity to work in the much more IT-intensive work environment of the 21st century.

A Better Understanding of What is Driving Growth - In a new paper, The Idea-Based Economy and Globalization: The Real Foundations of American Prosperity in the 21st Century, Rob Shapiro describes how the American economy is undergoing an historic transformation from one built on hard physical assets to one built on intellectual property and intangibles - "ideas." The implications for policy makers here and abroad are only just being understood, and need to be if better understood in crafting future American policies to accelerate future growth.

The Need to Invest in our Aging Infrastructure - In a major new paper, NDN Fellow Michael Moynihan makes the case a major new commitment to investing in domestic infrastructure will help drive future growth and improve America's quality of life.

A 21st Century Immigration System -We need a much more modern approach to bring both high and low skilled workers into America, in ways that meet the needs of our modern economy and does so in a way consistent with our values. NDN has been one of the leading institutions championing a thoughtful approach to immigration reform, and certainly for those looking to relieve downward pressure on wages and benefits for American workers bringing the 5% of the workforce that is undocumented under the protection of American law, giving them access to the minimum wage and the ability to unionize would be a good place to start.

NDN also recently announced a major new initiative, tentatively titled the Green Project, which will be looking at ways to help transition our nation to a post-carbon economy while maintaining growth.

The economic path forward will not be easy, inexpensive or full of quick fixes. Globalization is bringing about structural changes in our economy that are not well understood, and helping make the American Dream a much more distant reality for too many. Whatever set of policies the nation pursues in the years ahead, it is critical we take a long-term view, and advance a comprehensive agenda that tackles the underlying structural challenges of what was already a very tough go of it in the age of Bush.

To talk more about all this be sure to come to our Forum this Wednesday, March 12th, in Washington, DC. Rob Shapiro, the Chair of our Globalization Initiative, will be speaking about these and other matters at 1:15pm.

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