European Politics

More Austerity and Bail Outs for Greece as Conservative Party Wins Election

greeceGreece is in turmoil. Austerity demands and debt have ravaged the nation. In spite of this, the pro bail-out and corresponding austerity political party just won the election:

The pro-bailout New Democracy party came in first Sunday in Greece's national election and could gather enough support to form a pro-bailout coalition to keep the country in the eurozone.

The world's eyes have been on Greece and their elections. The reason is one party wanted to default and leave the Eurozone. The two main parties are the New Democracy and the Syriza. The New Democracy party are the conservatives and support the European bail outs, austerity demands and want to stick with the EU and the Euro. The left Syriza wants to default, get out of those austerity demands and leave the Eurozone.

Most are reporting the New Democratic Party of Greece can form a parliamentary coalition.

The euro strengthened as official projections showed Greece’s two largest pro-bailout parties winning enough seats to forge a parliamentary majority, easing concern the country would be forced from the currency bloc.

Beyond Protection vs. Liberalization - Thinking Historically About Trade and Policy

Note: this is a cross-post from The Realignment Project. Follow us on Facebook!


In about two years of blogging at TRP (and another two years’ policy-blogging elsewhere), I’ve never discussed trade. It’s not because it’s unimportant, because trade is clearly a major issue within economic policy and politics, but rather because of when I came of age politically. In 2001 student politics, the free trade vs. anti-globalization/protectionism debate seemed remarkably deadlocked and somewhat sterile. Twin camps of policy contenders required allegiance with either side, and I found myself unhappy with the analysis and debate and more drawn to questions of domestic economic policy.

However, in the wake of the Great Recession and the increasingly-urgent need to reassess the structure of the U.S economy, I can’t avoid it any longer. The trade question isn’t the whole of our economic problems, I think it can be exaggerated in a way that obscures a more important class conflict inside nations. And yet, the global balance of trade – between Germany and the rest of Europe, between China and the U.S, and so on – is clearly out of whack.

Creating Budget-Neutral Jobs Policy in an Era of Irrational Austerity

Note: this is a cross-post from The Realignment Project.


Recently, the Senate attempted for the second time to pass a small jobs bill. The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010 – which would provide for an extension of Unemployment Insurance, COBRA health insurance subsidies, $24 billion in aid to states’ Medicaid programs to prevent deficit-driven layoffs, partially paid for through closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy – already passed the House three months ago, but is stalled in the Senate. The fact that the bill failed with 56 senators voting in the affirmative not only sharpens the ironies of the anti-democratic nature of the Senate, but also shows that we’re stuck in the middle of a full-blown austerity craze.

Hence Senator Hatch’s call for the unemployed to be drugs tested - for Unemployment Insurance that they have paid for through years and years of contributions – and even supposedly liberal Senators like Dianne Feinstein suggesting that “people just don’t go back to work at all” if UI eligibility is extended beyond 99 weeks. On the simplest level, this is insanity – there are about thirty million unemployed (including both official and unofficial) and only three million job openings. Drugs tested or not, the 27 million left over don’t have a choice of whether to go back to work.

Unfortunately, to paraphrase Keynes, politics can stay irrational longer than the unemployed can stay solvent. Austerity is in full political swing, and unlikely to improve, except in the improbable scenario that Congress remains Democratic in the midterm elections and the Senate Democratic Caucus follows through on their threats to reform the filibuster. A public policy that can only work in optimal circumstances isn’t worth much, though, and there are still ways to move forward on jobs despite being lumbered by irrational budget-neutral burdens.

Job Insurance - The Public/Private Issue (Part 7 in a Series)


This is a cross-post from The Realignment Project.

For earlier parts in the series, see here.

One of the largest ideological barriers to establishing Job Insurance, just as was the case with Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid, is that it would in a fundamental way reshape the composition and relations of the public and private sectors. This more than anything else is what terrifies Republicans (it’s the reason why the GOP has targeted the public option especially) because it undermines one of the most important justifications for anti-statist and pro-corporate ideology. If the public sector and the private sector are not diametric opposites – if in fact, the public can do things that the private can, instead of the private sector being the only repository of competence and efficiency (and thus, capable of replacing the public sector) – then there is no practical argument against government intervention in the economy, and increasingly fewer philosophical arguments against it.

And so the argument will be made that this is socialist, that it’s un-American. And none of that is true.