Friday, December 07, 2012

Chicago Bears Thoughts

After a great 7-1 start, the Bears have stumbled and are now 8-4. They still have a two game lead in the wild card race with 4 to go, so I am not too worried about missing the playoffs (at least not at this point). However, they are going to have to play better - particularly offensively - if they are going to be a serious challenger for the Super Bowl.

The D is a bit banged up, but I expect to have the D intact going into the playoffs (assuming they make it). My sense is that their offensive line is actually better than it was 3 weeks ago. They played well against Minnesota and Seattle the last two weeks - both these teams have good defensive fronts. Brandon Marshall is a beast, but they need a complementary receiver to step up. Alshon Jeffery will be back for the playoffs, so that will make a difference. Forte and Bush are fine at running back. Cutler is solid at the QB position. But somehow it just hasn't all come together yet.

The Bears need a win this week on the road in Minnesota. But beyond just winning I'd like to see some better offensive production that builds into more momentum down the stretch.

Unemployment Falls to 7.7 Percent

The economy added 146,000 jobs last month and in a bit of a surprise the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent. This has more to do with people dropping out of the workforce than improvement in the economy.

I'd like to see a $50 billion to $100 billion infrastructure stimulus to improve roads, bridges, and schools. If we take the savings from the drawdown in Afghanistan, eliminate the 2 percent FICA holiday and allow the Bush tax cuts to the top 2 percent to finally expire, there will be more than enough money to pay for a new stimulus. Then we can have a burst of economic activity in the economy created by the spending and improve job creation numbers. The other benefit is that we will have infrastructure that is good for the next 20 to 50 years for our investment now. It is good for the short term and the long term.

Fiscal Cliff Nonsense

I am just amazed by the level of Republican intrasigence when it comes to the whole "fiscal cliff" nonsense.

There is no real crisis. In a worst case scenario taxes will rise for all Americans and there will be significant budget/spending cuts - primarily to the defense budget. But you can be sure that Congress will fix both of those items within a day or two.

If we are going to get serious about fixing the economy and getting a handle on the deficits then there has to be spending cuts and some tax policy adjustments that bring in more revenue. It isn't that complicated. Asking the top 2 percent to go back to the Clinton era tax rates is the least we can do. Frankly, there needs to be changes to capital gains taxes, the alternative minimum tax, and the payroll tax cap. If we make modest adjustments to these, as well as look to cut government spending by $200 billion, we could easily cut our deficit in half this coming year.

In the end, we will finally see an end to the Bush tax cuts to the top 2 percent. Republicans can try to hold the remaining 98 percent hostage if they like, but it is bad policy and really bad politics.