The Budget Outlook: No “Positive Stuff”

Burlington Conservative MP Mike Wallace was perturbed at Wednesday’s Commons finance committee hearing that Kevin Page, the independent parliamentary budget officer, didn’t offset his gloomy forecast that the economy would deteriorate at “a historic rate” much faster than the government had predicted in January’s budget, with more upbeat, feel-good news (like Harper will surely be delivering on Fox News Sunday tomorrow).

“How come you didn’t show us any positive stuff that Canada’s doing?” Wallace pathetically moaned. “We’re in better shape, wouldn’t you agree, than our American friends? Is there a reason that you’ve only showed us the negative?”

Indeed. Page should have focused on the “positive stuff” — like having clawed our way back to a surplus position after years of massive deficits racked up by the previous “Conservative” government, paying down the national debt and setting aside a contingency fund under the previous Liberal government (well, that is until the Conservatives pissed it away with their reckless spending and pointless GST cut). Or he could have pointed to our superior financial regulatory regime, again thanks to the Liberals, and with no help from the Conservatives, who opposed such regulation every step of the way.

Update: This seems rather appropriate here…

Attack of the Boy Toy

Oops. Sorry, that’s ToryBoy (to be precise, “ToryBoy1” — not to be confused with ToryBoyX573). Anyway, here’s the latest boffo attack ad from the Harper’s brainacs at Dooche Central:

Oooooo… pretty scary, boys and girls. Thunderous, plodding music. Owooooo! Quotes taken out of context from 2½ years ago!!! And a headline from CBC News from a year ago speculating that the Liberals might raise the GST back up to the level it was when the economy was riding high before the Conservatives drove it into a wall! And all the while, money just flying out of your poor wallet. That is YOUR wallet isn’t it, Mr. and/or Mrs. “Average” Canadian? I mean you are white and married with two kids, right?

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives: Because playing politics is so much more fun than mismanaging the economy!

Simple Minds

The unfortunately named Conservative Christian, Dick Ball discovers there are different time zones in the world and seems agog to learn there’s actually a four hour time difference between Toronto and London, England. Imagine!

Dick doesn’t believe in anthropogenic global warming (he facetiously suggests that if CO2 is so harmful then maybe we should all just indefinitely hold our breath — ha, ha… what a joker), but claims he can prove — yes, prove! — the existence of God.

Your Bloggin’ Tory intelligentsia hard at work, ladies and gentlemen.

The Great Recession: A View from Main Street

Aljazeera visits Danville, Virginia, a town of 45,000 with an unemployment rate of 16.8% — one of the highest in the state. Danville is heavily reliant on its manufacturing industries — Goodyear Tire and SwedWood (makers of IKEA furniture) are the largest employers. However, any downfall in the economy means manufacturing cities like Danville get hit hard. With 3,576 people out of work, the town is trying to diversify itself, and lure different types of businesses to try and revive its local economy.

Geithner at the CFR

On Taxpayer Money & the Bailouts

Earlier in the week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner addressed a meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations to discuss his plan to adjust regulations on the U.S. financial system. Here, answering a question about the perceived socialization of risk and privatization of profit, Geithner justifies risking taxpayer money during the financial crisis to revive the markets. “Central fact is that governments have to be prepared to take risks the markets can’t take, for a temporary period of time in order to get a firmer foundation for repair,” he said.

Debunking the “One World Currency” Flip-Flop

ForaTV has the complete hour-long speech and Q&A session here. It’s well worth checking out. If nothing else, it’s revealing how maliciously right-wing critics have distorted and taken his remarks out of context in order to fabricate their latest twist on the febrile “one world currency” conspiracy theories now being enthusiastically promoted on Fox News and circulated around the Wingnutosphere (where they evidently seem to get picked up by ignorant crackpots like Michele Bachmann).

At the heart of their allegations is the contention that Geithner’s had supposedly “flip flopped” from his statement made the previous day before the House Financial Services Committee where Bachmann had ridiculously asked both Geithner and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke if they would “categorically renounce the United States moving away from the dollar and going to a global currency.” Both answered unreservedly “yes.”

Taking a snippet from his response to a question on the same subject at the CFR event the next day, they made it appear that Geithner had reversed himself. That’s not the case at all however, as can be seen from the following answers concerning the idea floated by Zhou Xiaochuan, the governor of China’s central bank about reviving the idea of a new international standard of some kind for foreign currency reserves.

On the, on the first question, I haven’t read the governor’s proposal. He’s a – a remarkable – a very thoughtful, very careful distinguished central banker. Generally find him sensible on every issue. But as I understand this proposal, it’s a proposal designed to increase the use of the IMF’s special drawing rates. And we’re actually quite open to that suggestion. But you should think of it as rather evolutionary, building on the current architecture, than – rather than – rather than moving us to global monetary union.

What Geithner was “open to” was the idea of changes in the IMF special drawing rights and most decidedly not the concept of a single world currency. Asked again at the end of the talk to further clarify his comment on the reaction to the central bank governor of China’s idea, the moderator rephrased the question this way: “Do you see any change over the foreseeable future in the basic role of the dollar as the world’s key reserve currency or the reserve currency?” To which, Geithner answered:

I do not. I think the dollar remains the world’s dominant reserve currency. I think that’s likely to continue for a long period of time. And as a country, we will do what’s necessary to make sure we’re sustaining confidence in our financial markets and in — and in the productive capacity of this economy and our long-term fundamentals.

He really couldn’t have been much clearer than that. Oh, and just in case you think he’s dissembling a bit with the latter part of the second answer, those comments about productive capacity and so on refer to earlier remarks about such components being essential to the strength of the dollar and its long-term “sustainability” in this regard.

Jumbo Shrimp Tales

Touting her global currency conspiracy, Bachmann insists: “This is not Michele Bachmann being a kook”

The right-wing continues its relentless march down the Road to Unwellville. Seriously. The right is becoming loonier and more detached from reality with each passing day. Here, for example, is the kooky Minnesota congresswoman spewing some of her “revolutionary” crazy-talk on Hannity’s yak-show. I guess this extreme kind of hyperbole fires up the red meat crowd, feeding into their paranoia that the UN is coming to take away their guns, convert them to Islam, and make their children gay, but I’d venture to guess that for most “normal” people she just comes across sounding completely nuts.

Over at Hardball, Matt Taibbi suggested that Bachmann had less mental capacity than someone under the influence of household chemicals.

“It’s funny, this morning outside of Penn Station, I saw a guy huffing glue out of a paper bag and he was making more sense than Michele Bachmann was making,” Taibbi said. “I can’t believe you need to pass a written test to drive a car in this country, but I bet this woman can’t even write her name in the ground with a stick. It’s unbelievable to me that this person is in the Congress.”