You wake up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. There are simply too many things going through your mind to be able to sleep through the quiet hours of the night. A trip to the kitchen and a few moments staring out the window at a dark and peaceful world aren’t quite enough. The stillness envelopes you and your world as a threat, not a moment of peace warm in bed.
Nothing really changes at that time of night – it’s always up to the next morning to make something happen. Welcome to a new kind of Morning in America, the day after a sleepless night.
A central argument put forward by Barataria for the last three years has been that this economic situation is not like anything else that we have experienced in a very long time. While labels aren’t always useful, this one has had an obvious handle that describes the last ten years very well – a Depression. As frightening as that term is, ignoring it has only proven scarier yet.
Waiting for this reality to sink in has been a difficult time, but the dreaded “D” word is starting to be used commonly in Op-Ed pieces as well as general discussion. The last six weeks or so since the debt ceiling debacle have crystallized the public’s attention and illuminated the stakes of the situation into a blinding shimmer.
That’s when Obama stepped in.
The American Jobs Act was only the start, but it appears that it is indeed a start. The president is apparently willing to take dramatic action, now proposing to increase taxes on the wealthy as part of his deficit reduction plan. This is far more than “tax the rich”, it is a signature change in the way taxes and the economy are viewed. A Democrat is finally standing up to the idea that investment income should be taxed at a lower rate because it supposedly creates jobs. There has been no evidence that this has worked in the last ten years and less reason to think it will work in the future. Military spending is also on the table for the first time as well.
What really changed? The last Unemployment Initial Claims number came in at 428k for the previous week, a level that tells us that there is no net jobs growth. It’s the only real-time indicator we have, coming well in advance of the unemployment report that comes out the first Monday of every month. We know what the September report will say, and it will be bleak. Obama is getting his plan in place to use that report for added momentum – not just another piece of bad news for us all to stare at like scared animals.
What will happen to this plan? It’s hard to say just how the reaction will play out in the press and the public, but it’s clear that there is now a bias for action in government. This matches the Bernanke approach which has been the one true source of activity for more than three years now.
No one can tell us just where we will go from here, but things are moving. There is progress and the fight is finally going to be engaged. We are still not talking about actions that transform our economy from the old one that failed into the next one we can see arriving, but we are getting there.
It’s morning again in America. It may not be the happy rush-the-kids around and bask in the warm glow of the sun kind of morning, but it’s a great start. This is a day that comes at the end of a sleepless night full of focus and determination. It has the energy of adrenaline and the promise that things can be put right with heart and arm and brain working together.
It may not be anyone’s idea of a great day ahead, but it beats staring out of the window at 2AM on a still and dark world.
What do you think? Are you ready?