The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped another 3
percent Thursday as Wall Street metabolized the truth most Americans
already know: We're in a recession. The "double dip" has arrived.
Most Americans never really emerged from the Great Recession anyway.
We can get out of this recession but not via the Fed's "quantitative
easing" alone. When consumers can't spend and businesses won't spend
without additional consumers, government must be the spender of last
Juicing the economy back to health (notice I didn't use the "s" word
Republicans have now vilified) will require at least $700 billion in
additional federal spending this year and next. (This number takes
account of state and local government cutbacks as well as well as the
current shortfall between current economic activity and the economy's
productive capacity at or near full employment.)
But this magnitude of additional spending isn't feasible in the face
of Tea Party Republican intransigence. Hell, Republicans won't even
spend additional money on flood and hurricane relief. The Tea Party
obsession about the federal deficit and the size of the government is
Not only is this obsession keeping millions of Americans out of work, it's also starting to bring down the Street.
If this keeps up, we'll have a showdown between establishment
Republicans who understand what must be done -- and who will support
substantially more federal spending in the short term in order to goose
the economy -- and Tea Party zealots who refuse to face reality.
The crack in the Republican Party between its establishment and Tea
Party wings is viewed politically as a contest between Mitt Romney and
Rick Perry. But in reality it's a brewing fight between economic
pragmatists and right-wing ideologues. (Don't expect Romney to call for
more government spending, at least before the Republican nomination.)
The titans of Wall Street may not want Barack Obama to be reelected, but
the Street has an even greater interest in saving its assets and its
Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.