Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Francois Hollande’s novel economic policies in France should be monitored closely, to see if they are successful.

The new president of France, Francois Hollande, has announced unusual new economic measures that everyone should pay attention to. They represent a decided turn away from the destructive policies of the eurozone so far, and even violate basic neoclassical economic principles. We all ought to watch closely to see if they succeed.

While almost everyone in Europe is calling for lower wages, Hollande is raising his country’s minimum wage faster than inflation. He thus has favored a view of the economy called demand-led growth, which suggests higher wages will increase demand sufficiently to promote more growth. It is a version of Keynesianism, long since dropped by most American Keynesians. I discuss this at some length in a piece for New America Foundation, called “A Case for Wage-Led Growth.”

He is also proposing a 75 percent income tax on those who make more than 1 million euros a year, and higher taxes on dividends. Many think raising taxes in a recession is anathema, but raising taxes on the rich will not hurt the nation. It will not affect their spending very much.

Thus, he stokes demand with higher wages for lower income people and satisfies the budget crisis with higher taxes on the wealthy. Not bad. There are hints he will also propose budget cuts, which would mistakenly play into the hands of the austerity advocates. We shall see.

The problem of course is that the wage increase is skimpy, to say the least. Another problem—and a bigger one—is that a higher-wage policy has to be taken broadly across Europe and led by the Germans. This is what I advocate in the New America piece. While German ministers have talked about higher wages there, they are not taking aggressive action.

Still, let’s keep an eye on the French experiment. It is a bit of fresh air in a compression chamber of stifling, self-centered economic policy-making.

Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Jeff Madrick is the Director of the Roosevelt Institute’s Rediscovering Government initiative and author of Age of Greed.

Cross-Posted From Rediscovering Government

The Roosevelt Institute is a non-profit organization devoted to carrying forward the legacy and values of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was forced to defend President Donald Trump's recent attacks on MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday, an unenviable task she nevertheless intentionally signed up for. She desperately tried to divert the attention back to Scarborough — without engaging in the president's conspiracy theorizing — but offered no credible defense of the president's conduct.

Trump has been spreading the debunked theory that Scarborough killed a staffer in 2001 while he was in Congress, even though it was determined she died of natural causes. The staffer's widower wrote a released a letter on Tuesday pleading with Twitter to take down the president's offensive tweets promoting the thoery. He said he was "angry," "frustrated," and "grieved" by the president's promotion of the harmful allegations. Trump is perverting his late wife's memory, he said, and he fears her niece and nephews will encounter these attacks.When asked about the letter, McEnany said she wasn't sure if the president had seen it. But she said their "hearts" are with the woman's family "at this time." It was a deeply ironic comment because the only particularly traumatizing thing about "this time" for the family is the president's attacks, which come nearly two decades after the woman's death.

McEnany refused to offer any explanation of Trump's comments and instead redirected reporters to a clip of Scarborough on Don Imus's radio show in 2003. In that show, Imus made a tasteless joke obliquely referring to the death, and Scarborough laughed at it briefly.

"Why is the president making these unfounded allegations?" asked ABC News' Jonathan Karl. "I mean, this is pretty nuts, isn't it? The president is accusing someone of possible murder. The family is pleading with the president to please stop unfounded conspiracy theories. Why is he doing it?""The president said this morning, this is not an original Trump thought. And it is not," she said, bringing up the Imus clip. But she made no mention of why the president is bringing up the issue 17 years later and with a much larger platform.

When pressed further on the president's conduct, she again diverted blame to Scarborough, saying his morning show unfairly criticizes the president. But again, she offered no substantive defense of Trump.

After McEnany had moved on, PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor brought it up again: "Why won't the president give this widower peace and stop tweeting about the conspiracy theory involving his wife?"

McEnany said she had already answered the question, which she hadn't, and said the onus is on Scarborough to explain the Imus clip."The widower is talking specifically about the president!" Alcindor shot back. But McEnany called on Chanel Rion, with the aggressively pro-Trump outlet OAN, who changed the subject to conspiracy theories about the origins of the Russia investigation.

"Are you not going to answer that?" Alcindor called out, still trying to get a substantive response to her question, but Rion spoke over her.

At the end of the briefing, another reporter asked whether Trump was looking for any actual law enforcement steps be taken in response to his conspiracy theory. But McEnany had nothing to add, and simply told people to listen to the Imus clip again. As she hurried out of the briefing room, a reporter asked if Trump would stop promoting the theory — but she left without answering.

Watch the exchange about Klausutis, which begins at 48:45.