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Republicans For Recession

I looked up a compilation of recessions in American history. We can debate the definition of recession, it is generally understood as a contraction in the economy, involving higher unemployment, lost jobs, layoffs. Obviously, some recessions are worse than others. I used wikipedia for these statistics, which is not ideal ,but probably accurate enough for a gloss on the issue.

Here are the listed recessions in America from 1950 until today, with the reminder that by far the worst economic period in the last 100 years, was the Great Depression of 1929, essentially the result of the laissez-faire policies of the three Republican Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover. I will also list the President in office at the time the recessions began.

1953, Eisenhower. 1958, Eisenhower. 1960, Eisenhower. 1969, Nixon. 1973, Nixon. 1980, Carter. 1981, Reagan. 1990, GHW Bush. 2007, “The Great Recession,” GW Bush.

That is the list. We are not in a recession now, that is ordinarily something determined by The National Bureau of Economic Research, using specific criteria. Actually, of the six key indicators, NBER lists four of the six indicate growth. Those are Real Personal Income, Jobs, Real Wholesale Retail Sales, and Industrial Production. People can argue about this, but we are not currently in a recession, though we might be in one next year. There are some short recessions, some longer ones, and then the awful one in 2007 which lasted for years.

Back to the list, we will note that every single one of them but one, started under a Republican president. That is not coincidence. Republicans do not believe in stimulating the economy by increasing the buying power of the middle class. That is not the only factor causing a recession, but the historical data is overwhelming.

Now the Republicans are excitedly claiming that the estimated GDP decline of .9%, following a decline of 1.6% three months ago, means RECESSION! Admittedly, the word is powerful, and connotes all sorts of bad things, particularly to unsophisticated voters. With all the bad things the Republicans are doing, and the positive news on Democratic bills, they are going to hammer away at the R word.

Today, Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi said that he was absolutely sure that the U.S. economy was not in recession, though the outlook was “cloudy.’ It was also suggested by some economists a few weeks ago that we are “talking ourselves into a recession,” meaning that if enough people shout “recession!,” some consumers will cut back on spending so that there is a slowdown, which would lead to more cutting back, and a greater slowdown. Of course, the Republicans want the recession, or talk of it, because they don’t care about anything but winning elections right now.

I remember most of those recessions, some were worse than others, most of them were not reasons for panic. They are to be avoided, but there are natural economic cycles: inflation, then the Fed raises interest rates, and if they shoot too far, they could cause a recession. Nine recessions from 1953-2007, eight of them under Republican Presidents.

None under Clinton, whose policies Republicans swore would destroy the economy. None under Obama. None under JFK or LBJ. If there is one coming up, it certainly would not be Biden’s fault, it would be due to the Federal Reserve raising interest rates. Now, someone could blame Biden for the inflation, even though the pandemic, the pent-up demand, the supply chain problems, the Ukraine war, were the major causes. and so the inflation is worldwide.

But we know that none of this matters, because with the 24-hour news stations, there will be about 23 hours and forty minutes of “Recession!” and twenty minutes of explanation. Very few people understand economics; and I don’t understand all the nuances, either, but it’s all overpowered by the headlines. We could have really used a slightly better GDP number, so as not to trigger the “two negative GDPs mean a recession,” which is not the case, but fits the easy narrative that the media likes.

This is where the media really fails us. The President does not control the actions of the Federal Reserve Board, although Trump kept trying to force Powell to drop interest rates, to juice the economy to enhance his election chances. Remember that Trump said he wanted negative interest rates, and wanted a stimulus package of $3 trillion. All stupid, short-term measures designed for the only things that Trump cares about, money and winning. But the media never mentions any of that. Biden is blamed for the stimulus of 2021, and Republicans, who do not want government to spend anything on average citizens, say that this is what caused inflation, and then they blame Biden for the inflation and the recession.

All they want is to win, and advance their dreadful agendas. They just look for an entry point. Inflation. Recession. Fears of Recession. Migrant caravans. Social unrest. Wokeness. Anything. Trying to argue about economic realities and causes is frowned upon by the media, it does not get them ratings, not the way that running chyrons about “Democrats fear destruction in midterms,” or “Prices soar,” do. So they go for what sells for them. It is very frustrating, because there is a good deal in the way of good news coming from Democrats, while we hear more stories of treasonous purging of phone and computer logs by those who were planning and carrying out the coup against democracy. but it gets pushed out of the headlines and news cycle.

I would bet that half of every cable news show hour, and 90% on Fox, will be about inflation, or recession, or both. I would hope that the Democrats somehow try to focus on abortion, climate, guns, and the Republicans voting against aid to veterans out of spite. No matter what the news hosts say, just keep switching the subject.

Republicans are the Party of Recessions. They specialize in causing them. It is very rare that they can use the term as a weapon against Democrats, but they are eager to do so, to push the cultural issues off the election coverage, only to return when they have tricked enough people into putting them in power.

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21 Responses

  1. Republicans love recessions because recessions depress wages, increase unemployment, and make the working class more desperate and compliant. An empowered working class is the bane of their existence. That’s why they hate anything (like Social Security or single-payer healthcare) that might possibly make the life of hoi polloi less precarious.

    • A very good point which I sometimes do not focus on enough, though it was certainly at the forefront of much of the last fifty years. Maybe that’s whey they cause so many recessions.

      • This is also why, if you look at wingnut blogs, you’ll see them say stuff like “the real minimum wage is zero”. They’d repeal the 13th Amendment if they could.

        • This post is a really excellent read: https://zacharydcarter.substack.com/p/on-economics-and-democracy

        • And while we’re at it, we might as well quote Adam Smith:

          In reality high profits tend much more to raise the price of work than high wages…The rise of profit operates like compound interest. Our merchants and master-manufacturers complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price, and thereby lessening the sale of their goods both at home and abroad. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains. They complain only of those of other people.

          Wealth of Nations, Book 1, Chapter 9

  2. If anyone wants the links to the Magical Mystery Tour and Beaker Street, go back to the comment thread of Riverdaughter’s last post.

  3. A wordle story. I remember struggling with a Wordle a while ago, and finally coming up with “fluff” as the answer. Today, I had this feeling of being in a similar place, but I did not remember the previous one, until finally I thought of “fluff’ again, and I thought, “Didn’t they use that once before?” I did not want to look up past answers, because they might show today’s word. So, with only a u and an l after three tries, and not being able to think of any other possible words, I decided to try “bluff,” as it could be the word; and if it were not, it could show that “fluff” was the word.

    So I tried “bluff,” and it was indeed the word. And then I looked It up, and saw that they had used “fluff” on July 6. Almost the same level of trickiness, and I spent the same long time trying to think of a word which fit! Maybe they are running out of words? Well, just for the record, I have gotten 183 Wordles in a row, and 199 out of 200. Maybe i should stop there? i had kept trying to think of a word which ended with u, and with no other vowel in it, without success. ‘Uvula” didn’t fit, either, no “a” in word. I had almost resigned myself to just guessing a few new letters in guess four, until i somehow came up with “fluff” again. They’ve still got “sluff,” listed as an alternative form of “slough,” to use!

    • It seems to frequently be easier than we anticipate, but I think we are somewhat influenced by our most immediate guesses or tries, as language is essentially echolaic in many ways. It is a comforting ritual, though, to successfully complete the puzzle in a life that has a paucity of ritual or even in one that does not.

      • Yes, it is nice to look forward to a Wordle. it is interesting, you think that the mind remembers the process used to come up with an earlier word, even if one does not consciously think of it. Maybe that’s how fluff came into my mind today. Fluff is such an unusual word, one letter used three times in a five-letter word. Sissy was another one of these, and that was before i started playing Wordle.

    • I thought exactly the same thing, and I knew that they had just used fluff since I take a screenshot of my board every day.

      I have added dordle and wordshake to my daily ritual now. Dordle is a bit more challenging since you have to guess 2 words simultaneously in 7 tries, and wordshake is just a basic word find.

      My last loss was game 191 yesterday was game 407.

      This site allows you to view past answers, and DOES NOT give away today’s answer unless you click on the tab.

      Note: The site is obviously maintained by a coder, since the first game is designated game 0 not 1, like normal humans would :-D.

      • jmac, that gives you 216 in a row, very impressive!

        Oh, i don’t think I would want to play Dordle, trying to come up with guesses which would improve my chances to guess two different words. Do you do well at it? i suppose one might eventually figure out how to do it, but it seems as if one would miss quite a few until figuring out a method. It would be a challenge, though.

        • I have been playing for about 75 games, and have lost 5 so far. It can be frustrating, because the word you guess applies to both secret words.

  4. I had my third loss overall today. I was down to my last guess and chose “fluff”, forgetting that it had been the answer a while ago.

    Oh, well. I didn’t win $1.28 billion in Mega Millions either. It just wasn’t my lucky day.

    • Beata, I am sorry to hear that, but you still have a great Wordle record. it took me about an hour or concentration to actually get this one, and if i had not finally though of fluff and bluff, i never would have gotten it. And I struggled with “cinch” the other day, too, guessing winch on the fourth guess, because I thought, they can’t use another double letter,’ but of course they could.

      • Agree on cinch, it was a Phew for me after failing with PINCH and WINCH, again, on my fourth guess I should have eliminated the P and W using PAWKY, but I was too confident that PINCH was the answer.

        Also, don’t think of quitting William, word games are good to keep the brain working.

        • After I got cinch on my fifth guess, I later realized that there was also finch, which i had not eliminated as a possibility, but i would have had one guess left for it. Perhaps you had already eliminated f as a letter.

          • Unless I go off course my first 3 guesses test E T A I N O S H R D L U C M F, if at that point I am still not seeing anything I will Guess Pawky or Gawky to test 4 more letters

    • Beata, Re: the lottery. My husband bought two tickets. On one of them, he had the first number and the power ball number. He won $4! So, he’s even.

      Roz in NJ/NYC

  5. Roz, if you happen to be in the vicinity, I want you to know I am reading the Lucasta Miller book about Keats. It’s brilliant.

    • Beata, I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. I just checked and our library has it. Goes on my “to read” list.

      Roz in NJ/NYC

  6. Just a little side note on the subject of recessions:

    According to the fine folks at Wikipedia, there have been 48 recessions since the founding of the Republic. That’s an average of one every 5 years or so. 36 of those occurred before 1933, when FDR’s New Deal programs took effect and regulation of the financial sector took hold. During that period, we had recessions about every 4 years. Since then, they’ve occurred about every 7.5 years, so that’s a 47% reduction in the frequency of recessions since the implementation of the New Deal. Please note that New Deal programs like Social Security and FDIC deposit insurance also mitigate the recessions that do occur, by supporting demand and reducing poverty.

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