Andy Harless Is Shrill
Living in the Sprawl

Why We Would All Be Better Off If the Washington Post Shut Down Today: Another Example

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

The New York Times and the Washington Post cover Christina Romer's farewell address:

NEW YORK TIMES: Romer's Farewell: We Averted Another Depression: JACKIE CALMES: Christina Romer, the departing chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, is to say in a farewell speech today that the administration’s responses to the economic crisis it inherited averted “a second Great Depression” and kindled a slow recovery, according to excerpts released on Wednesday morning by the White House. Ms. Romer’s last day as a member of Mr. Obama’s economic team, and its only leading woman, is Friday, which coincides with the release of unemployment figures for August that are expected to show joblessness still hovering above 9 percent. And she returns to California in a campaign season in which Republicans insist, and many voters believe, that administration policies have failed, despite nonpartisan analyses to the contrary.

Ms. Romer’s tenure ultimately was clouded by the failure of her initial projection that unemployment would peak at 8 percent with Mr. Obama’s two-year $787 billion stimulus package – a miscalculation that she, and many outside analysts, attribute to the fact that few economists grasped in late 2008 how severe the recession was.... “I am proud of the recovery actions we have taken. I believe they have made the difference between a second Great Depression and a slow but genuine recovery,” Ms. Romer will say, according to her speech draft. “And the passage of health care reform and financial regulatory reform are accomplishments that will be with us long after the recession is over.”

The recession has been “fundamentally different from other postwar recessions,” she will say. It was “born of regulatory failures and unsound practices that contributed to a housing bubble and eventually a full-fledged financial crisis,” she will say, and, with interest rates already at low levels, the Federal Reserve was inhibited in the usual monetary policy remedies of lowering rates to spur investment. “Precisely what has made it so terrifying and so difficult to cure is that we have been in largely uncharted territory,” Ms. Romer will say. “Just as the recession was unprecedented in postwar American history, so was the policy response...”

WASHINGTON POST: Romer serves dismal for lunch. Pepto-Bismol for dessert?: DANA MILBANK: It wasn't the food; it was the entertainment. Christina Romer, chairman of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, was giving what was billed as her "valedictory" before she returns to teach at Berkeley, and she used the swan song to establish four points, each more unnerving than the last: She had no idea how bad the economic collapse would be. She still doesn't understand exactly why it was so bad. The response to the collapse was inadequate. And she doesn't have much of an idea about how to fix things.

What she did have was a binder full of scary descriptions and warnings, offered with a perma-smile and singsong delivery: "Terrible recession. . . . Incredibly searing. . . . Dramatically below trend. . . . Suffering terribly. . . . Risk of making high unemployment permanent. . . . Economic nightmare."

Anybody want dessert?

At week's end, Romer will leave the council chairmanship after what surely has been the most dismal tenure anybody in that post has had: a loss of nearly 4 million jobs in a year and a half. That's not Romer's fault; the financial collapse occurred before she, and Obama, took office. But she was the president's top economist during a time when the administration consistently underestimated the depth of the economy's troubles - miscalculations that have caused Americans to lose faith in the president and the Democrats. Romer had predicted that Obama's stimulus package would keep the unemployment rate at 8 percent or less; it is now 9.5....

This is why nearly two-thirds of Americans think the country is on the wrong track - and why Obama's efforts to highlight the end of U.S. combat in Iraq and the resumption of Middle East peace talks have little chance of piercing the gloom as voters consider handing control of Congress back to the Republicans...

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Can anybody come up with a reason why all Washington Post subscribers shouldn't immediately dump their subscriptions and switch to the New York Times instead? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

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