Economy

John and Elizabeth Edwards agree: Getting us out of Iraq can end the recession

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usBy Martin Bosworth

After the sad event that was John Edwards ending his run for president, I wondered what he would do with himself next. While Clinton and Obama furiously courted him for a blessing, he and his wife, Elizabeth, have largely remained quiet and kept their own counsel. Until now.

Yesterday both John and Elizabeth committed their still-formidable political muscle behind a different campaign–joining the effort to withdraw from Iraq by tying it to our looming recession.

John Edwards had this to say:

“There is great concern, anxiety and angst out there among most Americans about their economic security. They are worried about a lot of things. They are concerned about the cost of a health care system that is broken and needs to be fixed. They are worried about how to pay to send their kids to college. The mortgage and foreclosure crisis is now becoming central to the economic insecurity an awful lot of Americans are feeling. All of these things are made much worse due to the war in Iraq. The American public sees a direct connection between the spending in Iraq and the economic anxiety caused by the price of oil and gasoline. They want to see this war brought to an end.”

Elizabeth had some sharp words of her own:

Elizabeth Edwards, in traditional fashion, saved many of her choice words for media. Lamenting that reporters “certainly don’t cover the connection between the issues,” she said the American people see there is “undoubtedly a connection between oil, the costs of transportation in this country, and this war.”

The effort, tentatively called Iraq Campaign 2008, intends to focus heavily on the domestic costs of a protracted Iraq war. “We have a limited amount of money and we’re spending much too much of our available resources on this war,” Elizabeth Edwards said.

The campaign already consists of a number of progressive heavyweights, including MoveOn.org, SEIU, the Center for American Progress, and the Campaign for America’s Future. The group also has the advantage of tapping in to the zeitgest of the public will, which clearly believes that Iraq is a millstone around our economic neck:

The way to get the country out of recession — and most people think we’re in one — is to get the country out of Iraq, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. Pulling out of the war ranked first among proposed remedies in the survey, followed by spending more on domestic programs, cutting taxes and, at the bottom end, giving rebates to poor people in hopes they’ll spend the economy into recovery. (Emphases added.)

It pleases me to no end to see an idea I strongly advocate getting such traction from the public, the press, and the political players alike. Without question, withdrawing our troops from Iraq, even at the likely slow rate it will take, will free up billions of potential tax dollars that, if properly spent (as outlined in this excellent plan from the Economic Policy Institute), could jumpstart our economy and provide needed infusions of cash, jobs, and improvements to our decaying society–much more than handing out a few hundred dollars that are actually drawn from your own tax refunds ever could.

If John Edwards can’t be President, and Elizabeth Edwards can’t be First Lady, then here’s to them joining this campaign instead. I intend to ensure that this time, the outcome is very different for all concerned.

19 replies »

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  2. It’s hard to know whether Edwards came up with the idea on his own or whether it came to him via other channels, but we do know that you wrote about this fairly prominently sometime back and that your post appeared in a forum that included at least one or two of his people.

    So good work, Martin, and you can count me in on this effort.

    Although I’m not sure how this fits in with the “rich lawyer just in it for himself” narrative….

  3. Sam,

    It’s hardly an original idea in its own right–I wasn’t the first to say it any more than the campaign is. But if someone in Edwards’ camp read it, took it to heart, and got them interested, that, to me, is a thing to be proud of.

    The trick now is to carry it through.

  4. Recessions are part of the normal business cycle. Whether getting out of Iraq shortens a recession is speculative at best. Anyways, one generally doesn’t know that we’ve been in a recession until after two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, and usually the recession is usually over by the time we realize that we’ve even had one. As the stock market has been historically considered to be a leading indicator of recessions, the tape right now is telling us that if there is a recession, it will be short. However, the memes going through people’s minds intensify a sense of “The madness of herds,” and a recession will continue until the meme changes. The media does a good job of creating recessions, such as the 1991-1992 election recession. However, the truth lies in the market, and the market is doing really well in spite of high commodity prices, the sub-prime debacle, and credit crunch. The higher commodity prices are of no great concern, as in inflation adjusted dollars, oil and foodstuffs are not at all time highs. The sub-prime debacle and credit crunch will work themselves out within a year as the capital infusions, lower fed rates, and writedowns take effect.

    A catalytic event on a a 9/11 scale could change all of this in a second, and one cannot rule that out. Sometimes, history tells us that wars can get us out of recessions and depressions. Not that I’m advocating war….

    Jeff

  5. Maybe that’s why he hasn’t endorsed — he’s not looking for a job in the next admin. Instead he’s going the Al Gore route and effecting change outside the government.

    I had no idea he was doing this. Announcement caught me by surprise.

  6. Curious:
    The price of gold is so high because of demand coupled with the fact that people think it’s going to go up further. The price of gold isn’t even close to the high it made in 1979-80, in inflation adjusted dollars. The high price of gold has nothing to do with if we’re in a recession or depression, as recessions and depressions tend to be deflationary in the long run. If you look at the Committment of Traders (COT) report for gold, you will find that most of the longs are speculative…mostly hedge fund money. The gold trade is short. If we were in a recession/depression, why would the price of copper be so high as copper only has industrial value. The price of copper is a good leading indicator for the performance of the economy.

    Anyways, a plurality of people that I’ve run across that discuss recessions don’t even know what the definition of a recession is.

    Jeff

  7. As former Edwards supporters, we are thrilled to see their new venture, and want to be a part of it. It is the most important project to undertake, for this country and the world. The Iraq invasion is killing people, ideas, countries, and the future of our existence. Few are connecting the dots, Others, like the media and their treasonous corporatist owners, and our government leaders are purposely diverting us away from this reality. With Al Gore and the Edwards involved in purposeful pursuits, there may be hope.

  8. the war does contribute due to the high debt we have depreciating the dallor but an even bigger cause of the recession is the global economy that idiot ronnie Reagan gave us.Tfhe Republicans gift of a global economy has caused millions to lose their jobs and countless millions more to take low paying jobs all destroying buying power.Quite frankly I am suprised we are not in another Republican caused depression

  9. Allbert:

    The depreciating dollar isn’t a result of the debt, but the price of a dollar is a result of free market forces determined by dealers and exchanges in the FX markets. Our government has a lot of debt, but expressed as a factor of GDP, it’s managable, especially when compared to some of the countries in the EU. As for the global economy, it’s been going on since the spice trade, and is here to stay. Our problem in the States is our inability to adjust to the nature of the inevitible free trade. Our sense of entitlement, high paying union jobs, and bailouts just makes the problem and adjustment worse. Since the countries like China are writing business plans that are successful, perhaps a review of our own business plan would be in order. As for the Republicans gift of a global economy….that is a myth perpetrated by disaffected progressives. Both sides of the aisle supported NAFTA and the other trade agreements. People fail to realize that market forces are so much larger than government forces. Furthermore, what’s wrong with doing business with China and other third world countries, as we’re helping bring them from a poor society to a rapidly expanding middle class society. We should be proud that we are lifting up the rest of the world, even if it is a sacrifice to us. That just shows the great American Character. We’re just being good world neighbors, as far as trade is concerned, and free trade trumps war every time.

    A sizable percentage of informed Americans would disagree with your statement that Reagan was an idiot. Have you a way to quantify that statement, or is it merely an exercise in hyperbole:)

    Jeff

  10. Hello, People…this is the main reason we should be out of Iraq…

    Bush Lied, Soldiers Keep Dying.

    3,972 U.S. Military Fatalities in Iraq
    483 U.S. Military Fatalities in Afghanistan
    29,203 U.S. Military Maimed in Iraq (source: DoD Update as of February 20, 2008)
    88,991 Iraqis Reported Killed (source: Iraq Body Count)
    1,173,743 Iraqis Reported Killed (source: justforeignpolicy.org)

    Not to mention the corruption and greed of Military/Industrial complex…

  11. Barbara:

    Have you quantified the “Corruption and greed of the Military/Industrial complex?” That would be an interesting exercise.

    Jeff

  12. Jeff-
    There are only two groups benefitting from the wars: Military industry & oil companies. Don’t believe me? For a start, try looking here:
    http://www.democracynow.org/2008/2/29/exclusive_the_three_trillion_dollar_war

    “…Nobel laureate and former chief World Bank economist, Joseph Stiglitz, and co-author Linda Bilmes of Harvard University say the Bush administration has repeatedly low-balled the cost of the war—and even kept a second set of records hidden from the American public.”

  13. Dave,

    What credible source can you cite? Stiglitz is well known for his partisan leftist views, kind of like a Paul Krugman. How do the oil companies benefit from the war? The oil companies are making money from high oil prices, yet their margins are stable. Anyways, what’s wrong with making money? If you own shares in a mutual fund or have an index fund in your 401K, the odds dictate that you are a part owner of those very companies.

    Where is this second set of books? If there were a second set of books, wouldn’t the Democrat controlled congress, via the Appropriations Committee, expose this set of books to the public to embarrass Bush?

    Jeff

  14. Jeff: Wait, so someone whose views are often to one side of the political spectrum or the other is no longer a credible source? Given that, can you name ANYONE who’s credible? I mean, you’re predictably to the right, which either means that you aren’t credible or that only conservatives are credible.

    And I know you don’t mean any of that, right?

  15. Dr.Slammy,
    Stiglitz’s views might be credible, had he been focusing on microeconomics(but I don’t even agree with his economic theories), but this is way out of his area of expertise. Just because he’s a Nobel Lauerate doesn’t mean much, considering the fact that people like Arafat won the big prize also.

    I never have gone on record saying that only conservatives are credibles I’ve said many times before, most of my news sources(non market related) come solidly from the left .

    Although I’m to the right of most of the participants in this forum, I’m actually a moderate.

    Speaking of credibility, do you find Fox News to be credible?

    I generally doubt all sources, and find an agenda on all sides. That’s why I prefer to quantify thiings with hard numbers, and the numbers bandied about regarding this war just don’t add up….from any side.

    Jeff

  16. Y’all , I must offer my humblest apologies for being so snarky and bombastic. These emotions are inversely proportional to my wife;s failing health. Please don’t take it personal, as I have no intent in hurting anyone’s feelings over here.

    Jeff

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