Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Dung Heap" Time - Killing Democracy: The New "Armies of the Night" & The Economic Crisis Has An Honorable Solution (JUST DO IT!)

Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul.
Charles Blow in today's New York Times provides a picture of our current economic conditions that you won't get from any financial magazine (where people are cleaning up in the stock market) or Murdoch media focusing on all the fake "good" news.

. . . I am forced to assume that if Washington politicians ever knew the sting of poverty then they have long since vanquished the memory. How else to qualify their positions? In fact, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, nearly half of all members of Congress are millionaires, and between 2008 and 2009, when most Americans were feeling the brunt of the recession, the personal wealth of members of Congress collectively increased by more than 16 percent. Must be nice.

Poverty is brutal, consuming and unforgiving. It strikes at the soul.

You defend yourself with hope, hard work and, for some, a helping hand. But these weapons grow dull in an economy on the verge of atrophy, in a job market tilting ever more toward the top and in a political environment that would sacrifice the weak to the wealthy.

A vast subset is chronically unemployed and desperately searching for work. According to the Consumer Reports Employment Index, “In 23 of the past 24 months, lower-income Americans have lost more jobs than they have gained.” It continues, “Meanwhile, more affluent Americans seem to be gaining more jobs than they are losing.”

And the current election-cycle obsession to balance the books with a pound of flesh, which is being pushed by pitiless Republicans and accommodated by pitiful Democrats, will only multiply the pain.

Read the rest here.

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of.

In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.

- Confucius

Although the Tea Party fools have touched the third rail of politics pretty handily now and are paying a price, keep in mind that prior to this moment in history, no one thought a political party could touch the third rail without being electrocuted (and never recovering). Bet your bottom dollar that the "compromises" they have extracted from the Obama administration (okay, given up without a whimper) were more than worth the casualties they will suffer from this extended rail encounter. (And Medicaid has already been tossed on the dung heap by its former advocates due to these fraudulent "negotiations," and the armies of poor, sick people will be on your street soon (talk about "Armies of the Night!").)

The Republican Party has spent the last several weeks receiving an education - by way of serial beatings delivered by constituents from sea to shining sea - on the awesome power of Medicare in America. When it became known that Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to turn the wildly popular program into a privatized disaster zone had been adopted as the battle standard for the GOP and its newly-muscular Tea Party bloc, seven different breeds of merry hell broke loose across the land. House member after House member climbed out of the DC bubble, went home to their districts, and were promptly set upon by furious people who deeply depend on Medicare.

These were conservatives, and liberals, and independents, as well as people who normally don't give even a single damn about politics, until politics came to their doorstep and promised to screw them to the wall. The GOP has invested itself in this attack on Medicare, going so far as to threaten to let the debt limit slip into default unless they get the cuts they want. This tactic has, to date, not fared well for them. At this point, House Republicans who support the Ryan Plan enjoy an approval rating just slightly to the south of scabies. They persist only because they have been boxed in by their own rhetoric, but the damage they have already done to themselves is so profound that a previously unthinkable possibility - a change in majority power in the House - is suddenly on the table in the upcoming 2012 congressional elections.

So, of course, the GOP is beginning to back away from this Ryan-led precipice. This does not mean, however, that the viciousness of their intentions has dissipated. Rather than retreat, it appears the GOP has decided to shift tactics and focus on the annihilation of Medicaid instead.

The threatened cuts to Medicare have gotten the lion's share of attention because the people who enjoy the benefits of the program have an enormous amount of political muscle, as well as powerful advocacy groups that can carry the argument against Ryan's plans to the airwaves, the newspapers, and the steps of Capitol Hill. They are listened to.

Medicaid, on the other hand, largely helps poor people, and they enjoy no such political clout or representation. The Democrats have made a great deal of political hay over the GOP's assault on Medicare, but appear willing to allow massive and brutal cuts to Medicaid that will absolutely devastate poor people, including elderly Americans who require nursing home care but can not afford it. If this deal goes down, growing old in America will once again mean growing poor, unless you happen to be one of the blue-chip one-percenters who can afford gold-plated bedpans and round-the-clock care.

The biggest problem with the American Dream is the fact that it makes people believe they will be rich someday, even though it is almost completely certain that won't happen. The rich in America foster and husband this belief, because it makes average people vote as if they will be rich eventually, too, and these votes help reinforce the high, gilded walls between the few Have's and the millions of Have Not's. Ours has become a cruel and callous country, willing to listen to pleasing lies from smooth talkers while the weakest and most vulnerable among us are turned out and turned away.

Medicare is threatened, and voices are raised in rage.

Medicaid is threatened, and there is hardly a whisper of dissent. Even the Democrats, self-styled as the defenders of these excellent programs, are standing mute in the face of savage cuts to this all-important program.

No more half-a-loaf politics, I say. If we can defend Medicare, we can defend Medicaid, for one is no more or less important than the other. Medicare has its heavy-hitting defenders, but no one appears willing to stand for Medicaid, and for the poor and needy who are sustained by it.

I think it's time to change that, and you and I must be the avatars of that change.

Don't let this happen.

Our friends at Antifascist Calling enlighten us about how we are losing our freedoms (due to the actions of this so-called Democratic administration) "one file at a time." It's terrifying to know that there is a group of so-called "Americans" who think this is a proper course of action. Against any type of threat. (Can you say "MICHAEL CHERTOFF?") (And it becomes clearer and clearer as we learn what these people are doing why Obama had to be the winning candidate (winning a Peace Prize for nothing - except possibly defusing the righteous anger coming up about his actions later). After all, he's a Constitutional scholar. He taught the meaning of the Constitution to young people, so he's got to know almost everything about its importance. (And he knows Kafka backwards.)) Speaking as a former Constitutional scholar at UNC myself studying with Professor Wallace, there's not a damn thing happening below that's hard to understand (under a fascist system). P.S. Cheney won. (See below.)
Sunday, June 19, 2011 While the Justice Department is criminally inept, or worse, when it comes to prosecuting corporate thieves who looted, and continue to loot, trillions of dollars as capitalism's economic crisis accelerates, they are extremely adept at waging war on dissent. Last week, The New York Times disclosed that the FBI "is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention. "Under 'constitutional scholar' Barack Obama's regime, the Bureau will revise its "Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide." The "new rules," Charlie Savage writes, will give agents "more latitude" to investigate citizens even when there is no evidence they have exhibited "signs of criminal or terrorist activity." As the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) recently pointed out, "When presented with opportunities to protect constitutional rights, our federal government has consistently failed us, with Congress repeatedly rubber-stamping the executive authority to violate civil liberties long protected by the Constitution." While true as far it goes, it should be apparent by this late date that no branch of the federal government, certainly not Congress or the Judiciary, has any interest in limiting Executive Branch power to operate lawlessly, in secret, and without any oversight or accountability whatsoever. Just last week, The New York Times revealed that the Bush White House used the CIA "to get" academic critic Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment blog was highly critical of U.S. imperial adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former CIA officer and counterterrorism official who blew the whistle and exposed the existence of a Bush White House "enemies list," Glenn L. Carle, told the Times:
I couldn't believe this was happening. People were accepting it, like you had to be part of the team.
Ironically enough, the journalist who broke that story, James Risen, is himself a target of an Obama administration witchhunt against whistleblowers. Last month, Risen was issued a grand jury subpoena that would force him to reveal the sources of his 2006 book, State of War. These latest "revisions" will expand the already formidable investigative powers granted the Bureau by former Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. Three years ago, The Washington Post informed us that the FBI's new "road map" permits agents "to recruit informants, employ physical surveillance and conduct interviews in which agents disguise their identities" and can pursue "each of those steps without any single fact indicating a person has ties to a terrorist organization." Accordingly, FBI "assessments" (the precursor to a full-blown investigation) already lowered by the previous administration will, under Obama, be lowered still further in a bid to "keep us safe" - from our constitutional rights. The Mukasey guidelines, which created the "assessment" fishing license handed agents the power to probe people and organizations "proactively" without a shred of evidence that an individual or group engaged in unlawful activity. In fact, rather than relying on a reasonable suspicion or allegations that a person is engaged in criminal activity, racial, religious or political profiling based on who one is or on one's views, are the basis for secretive "assessments." Needless to say, the presumption of innocence, the bedrock of a republican system of governance based on the rule of law, like the right to privacy, becomes one more "quaint" notion in a National Security State. In its infinite wisdom, the Executive Branch has cobbled together an investigative regime that transforms anyone, and everyone, into a suspect; a Kafkaesque system from which there is no hope of escape. Under Bushist rules, snoops were required to open an inquiry "before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database," the Times reported. In other words, somewhere in the dank, dark bowels of the surveillance bureaucracy a paper trail exists that just might allow you to find out your rights had been trampled. But our "transparency" regime intends to set the bar even lower. Securocrats will now be allowed to rummage through commercial databases "without making a record about their decision." The ACLU's Michael German, a former FBI whistleblower, told the Times that "claiming additional authorities to investigate people only further raises the potential for abuse." Such abuses are already widespread. In 2009 for example, the ACLU pointed out that "Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as 'low level terrorism'." As I reported in 2009, citing a report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Bureau's massive Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), is a data-mining Frankenstein that contains more "searchable records" than the Library of Congress. EFF researchers discovered that "In addition to storing vast quantities of data, the IDW provides a content management and data mining system that is designed to permit a wide range of FBI personnel (investigative, analytical, administrative, and intelligence) to access and analyze aggregated data from over fifty previously separate datasets included in the warehouse." Accordingly, "the FBI intends to increase its use of the IDW for 'link analysis' (looking for links between suspects and other people--i.e. the Kevin Bacon game) and to start 'pattern analysis' (defining a 'predictive pattern of behavior' and searching for that pattern in the IDW's datasets before any criminal offence is committed--i.e. pre-crime)." Once new FBI guidelines are in place, and congressional grifters have little stomach to challenge government snoops as last month's disgraceful "debate" over renewing three repressive provisions of the USA Patriot Act attest, "low-level" inquiries will be all but impossible to track, let alone contest. Despite a dearth of evidence that dissident groups or religious minorities, e.g., Muslim-Americans have organized violent attacks . . . the new guidelines will permit the unlimited deployment of "surveillance squads" that "surreptitiously follow targets." In keeping with the Bureau's long-standing history of employing paid informants and agents provocateurs such as Brandon Darby and a host of others, to infiltrate and disrupt organizations and foment violence, rules governing "'undisclosed participation' in an organization by an F.B.I. agent or informant" will also be loosened. The Times reports that the revised manual "clarifies a description of what qualifies as a "sensitive investigative matter" - investigations, at any level, that require greater oversight from supervisors because they involve public officials, members of the news media or academic scholars." According to the Times, the manual "clarifies the definition of who qualifies for extra protection as a legitimate member of the news media in the Internet era: prominent bloggers would count, but not people who have low-profile blogs." In other words, if you don't have the deep pockets of a corporate media organization to defend you from a government attack, you're low-hanging fruit and fair game, which of course, makes a mockery of guarantees provided by the First Amendment. As I reported last month, with requests for "National Security Letters" and other opaque administrative tools on the rise, the Obama administration has greatly expanded already-repressive spy programs put in place by the previous government. Will data extracted by the Bureau's Investigative Data Warehouse or its new Data Integration and Visualization System retain a wealth of private information gleaned from commercial and government databases on politically "suspect" individuals for future reference? Without a paper trail linking a person to a specific inquiry you'd have no way of knowing. Even should an individual file a Freedom of Information Act request demanding the government turn over information and records pertaining to suspected wrongdoing by federal agents, as Austin anarchist Scott Crow did, since the FBI will not retain a record of preliminary inquiries, FOIA will be hollowed-out and become, yet another, futile and meaningless exercise. And with the FBI relying on secret legal memos issued by the White House Office of Legal Counsel justifying everything from unchecked access to internet and telephone records to the deployment of government-sanctioned malware on private computers during "national security" investigations, political and privacy rights are slowly being strangled.
Friends, please don't ignore the history that accompanies this essay's concerns. Obama was elected in 2008, the article below was written in 2009 and rings just as true today (more so with every passing day it seems to me).
The Economic Crisis and What Must be Done By Richard C. Cook Global Research November 23, 2009 The United States does not control its own destiny. Rather it is controlled by an international financial elite, of which the American branch works out of big New York banks like J.P. Morgan Chase, Wall Street investment firms such as Goldman Sachs, and the Federal Reserve System. They in turn control the White House, Congress, the military, the mass media, the intelligence agencies, both political parties, the universities, etc. No one can rise to the top in any of these institutions without the elite’s stamp of approval. This elite has been around since the nation began, becoming increasingly dominant as the 19th century progressed. A key date was passage of the National Banking Act of 1863, when the system was put into place whereby federal government debt was used to collateralize bank lending. Since then we’ve paid the freight through our taxes for bank control of the economy. The final nails in the coffin came with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. In 1929 the bankers plunged the nation into the Great Depression by constricting the money supply. With Franklin D. Roosevelt as president, the nation struggled through the decade of the 1930s but did not pull out of the Depression until the industrial explosion during World War II. After the war came the Golden Age of the U.S. economy, when the working man, protected by strong labor unions, became a true partner in the prosperity of the industrial age. That era lasted a full generation. The bankers were largely spectators as Americans led the world in exports, standard of living, science and space exploration, and every measure of health, longevity, and culture. Roosevelt had kept the bankers subservient to the interests of the economy at large. The Federal Reserve was part of the New Deal team, and interest rates were held at historic lows despite a large federal deficit. One main impact was the huge increase in home ownership. After World War II, the G.I. Bill allowed home ownership to grow further and millions of veterans to attend college. The influx of educated graduates led to productivity growth and the emergence of new high-tech industries.

But the bankers were laying their plans. In the early 1950s they got the government to agree to allow the Federal Reserve to escape its subservience to the U.S. Treasury Department and set interest rates on its own. Rates rose throughout the 1950s and 1960s. By the time of the interest rate hikes of 1968, the economy was slowing down. Both federal budget and trade deficits were beginning to replace the post-war surpluses. High interest rates were the likely cause. In 1971, President Richard Nixon removed the dollar’s gold peg, allowing the huge inflation resulting from oil price increases that the international bankers engineered through control of U.S. foreign policy when Henry Kissinger was national security adviser and secretary of state. Nixon’s opening to China resulted in early agreements, also overseen by banking interests, to begin to transfer U.S. industry to overseas producers like China which had cheap labor costs.

By the mid-1970s, the U.S. had been taken over by a behind the scenes coup-d’etat that included events in 1963 when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a conspiracy that could only have been instigated by the highest levels of world financial control. In the election of 1976, David Rockefeller succeeded in placing fellow Trilateral Commission member Jimmy Carter in the White House, but Carter upset the banking community, thoroughly Zionist in orientation, by working toward peace in the Middle East and elsewhere.

I was working in the Carter White House in 1979-80. Unbeknownst to the president, Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, another Rockefeller protégé, suddenly raised interest rates to fight the inflation the bankers had caused by the OPEC oil price deals, and plunged the nation into recession. Carter was made to look weak and uninformed and was defeated in the election of 1980 by Republican candidate Ronald Reagan. It was through the “Reagan Revolution” that the regulatory controls over the banking industry were lifted, mainly in allowing the banks to use their fractional reserve privileges in making mortgage loans.

Volcker’s recession shattered American manufacturing and hastened the flight of jobs abroad. Under the “Reagan Doctrine,” the U.S. military embarked on an unprecedented mission of world conquest by attacking one small nation at a time, starting with Nicaragua. Global capitalism was also on the march, with the U.S. armed forces its own private police force. With the invasion of Iraq under George H.W. Bush in 1991, mainland Asia was revealed as the principle target.

The economy was floated by productivity gains through computer automation and a huge sell-off of assets through the merger-acquisition bubble of the late 1980s which ended in a recession. This resulted in the defeat of Bush by Bill Clinton in the election of 1992. Clinton was able to create another bubble through a strong dollar policy that attracted foreign capital.

The dot-com bubble that resulted lasted all the way through to the crash of December 2000. Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force led the way in the destruction of the sovereign state of Yugoslavia, whereby the international bankers took over the resource wealth of the entire Balkan region, and the U.S. military gained forward bases for further incursions into Asia.

Do we need to say that none of this was ever voted on by the American electorate? But they bought into it nevertheless, both with their silence and through participation in a generally favorable job market in the emerging service occupations, particularly finance.

By the time George W. Bush was inaugurated president in January 2001, the U.S. was facing a disaster. $4 trillion in wealth had vanished when the bubble collapsed. NAFTA caused even more American manufacturing jobs to disappear abroad. The Neocons who were moving into key jobs in the Pentagon knew they would soon have new wars to fight in the Middle East, with invasion plans for Afghanistan and Iraq ready to be pulled off the shelf.

But the U.S. had no economic engine available to generate the tax revenues Bush would need for the planned wars. At this moment Chairman Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve stepped in. Over a two year period from 2001-2003 the Fed lowered interest rates by over 500 basis points. Meanwhile, the federal government removed all regulatory controls on mortgage lending, and the housing bubble was on. $4 trillion in new home loans were pumped into the economy, much of it through subprime loans borrowers could not afford.

The Fed began to put on the brakes in 2003, but the mighty work of re-floating a moribund economy had been accomplished. By late 2006 another recession loomed, but it would take two more years before the crisis of October 2008 brought the entire system down.

The impact on the job market was immediate and profound. By the time Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008, the U.S. was mired in seemingly endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the worst recession since the Great Depression was picking up speed. In order to prevent total disaster, the Bush administration ended its eight years of catastrophic misrule with a flourish, by allocating over $700 billion in financial system bailouts to cover the bad loans the banks had been making since Greenspan gave the housing bubble the green light.

It is now November 2009. Since Barack Obama was inaugurated in January, unemployment has soared from 7.9 percent to 10.2 percent. A few hundred billion dollars were allocated for “stimulus” purposes, but most of that went to pay unemployment benefits and to keep state and local governments from laying off more employees.

A fraction has been distributed for highway improvements, but largely through the bank bailouts the federal deficit has been running at an annual rate of $1.5 trillion, by far the largest in history, with the national debt now topping $12 trillion. Ironically, those Americans who still have productive jobs continue to grow in efficiency, with productivity up over five percent in the last year.

So much federal money has been spent that the Obama administration has been struggling to make its health care proposals budget-neutral through a raft of new taxes, fees, and penalties, and by announcing in recent days that the government’ first priority must now shift to deficit reduction. The word “austerity” has been mentioned for the first time since the Carter administration. Yet Congress voted $655 billion in military expenditures to continue fighting in the Middle East. A U.S. military attack on Iran, possibly in conjunction with Israel, would surprise no one.

So where do we now stand?

At present, the Federal Reserve is trying to prevent a total economic collapse. Interest rates are near-zero, to the chagrin of foreign investors in U.S. Treasury securities, and close to half of new Treasury debt instruments have been bought by the Federal Reserve itself as a way of providing free money for federal government expenditures.

But the U.S. economy shows no signs of coming back, with no economic driver emerging that could bring it back. For all the talk about alternative energy, there has been no significant growth of any home-grown industry that could possibly make up so much lost ground in either the short or the long-term.

The industries in the U.S. that are holding up are the military, including arms exports, universities that are attracting large numbers of students from abroad, especially China, and health care, especially for the aging baby boomer population. But the war industry produces nothing with a long-term economic benefit, and health care exists mainly to treat sick people, not produce anything new.

None of this provides a foundation that can bring about a restoration of prosperity to 300 million people when the jobs of making articles of consumption are increasingly scarce. On top of everything else, since government inevitably looks to its own requirements first, the total tax burden continues to increase to the point where the average employee now pays close to 50 percent of his or her income on taxes of all types, including federal and state income taxes, real estate taxes, payroll taxes, excise taxes, government fees, etc. Plus the cost of utilities continues to rise steadily and threatens to skyrocket if cap-and-trade legislation is passed.

The Obama administration has no plans to deal with any of this. They have projected a budget for 15 years hence that shows the budget deficit decreasing and tax revenues going way up, but it is all lies. They have no roadmap for getting us there and no plans for following the roadmap if it portrayed a realistic goal. And yet the U.S. military is still trying to conquer Asia. It is madness.

And it is madness because the big decisions are not made by the U.S., by Congress, or by the Obama administration. The U.S. has, for half-a-century, been marching to the tune played by the international financial elite, and this fact did not change with the election of 2008. The financiers have put the people of this nation $57 trillion in debt, according to the latest reports, counting debt at the federal, state, business, and household levels. Interest alone on this debt is over $3 trillion of a GDP of $14 trillion. Failure of our political leadership to deal with this tragedy over the past three decades is nothing less than treason.

But then again, at some point the decision was made that the U.S. and its population would be discarded by history, the economic status of the nation reduced to a shadow of what it once was, but that its military machine would be used for the financial elite’s takeover of the world until it is replaced by that of some other nation. All indications are that the next country up to bat as military enforcer for the financiers is China.

There you have it. That, in my opinion, is the past, present, and future of this nation in a nutshell. Great evils have been done in the world in the last century, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Except…. and that’s what each person caught up in these travesties must decide. What are you going to do about it?

In mulling over this question, it would be wise to recognize that the dominance of the financial elite has largely been exercised through their control of the international monetary system based on bank lending and government debt. Therefore it’s through the monetary system that change can and must be made.

The progressives are wrong to think the government should go deeper in debt to create more jobs. This will just create an even deeper hole of debt future generations will have to crawl out of.

Rather the key is monetary reform, whether at the local or national levels. People have lost control of their ability to earn a living. But change could be accomplished through sovereign control by people and nations of the monetary means of exchange.

This control has been stolen. It is time to take it back. One way would be for the federal government to make a relief payment to each adult of $1,000 a month until the crisis lifted. This money could be earmarked for goods and services produced within the U.S. and used to capitalize a new series of community development banks. I have called this the “Cook Plan.”

The plan could be funded through direct payment from a Treasury relief account without new taxes or government borrowing. The payments would be balanced on the credit side by GDP growth or be used by individuals to pay off debt. It would be direct government spending as was done with Greenbacks before and after the Civil War without significant inflation.

Another method increasingly being used within the U.S. today is local and regional credit clearing exchanges and the use of local currencies or “scrip.” Use of such currencies could be enhanced by legislation at the state and federal levels allowing these currencies to be used for payment of taxes and government fees as well as payment of mortgages and other forms of bank debt. The credit clearing exchanges could be organized as private non-profit regional currency co-operatives similar to credit unions.

These would be immediate emergency measures. In the longer run, sovereign control of money and credit must be returned to the public commons and treated as public utilities. This does not mean exclusive government control to replace bank control. As stated previously, it would be done in partnership between government and private trade exchanges. Nor does it mean government takeover of business, industry, or the banking system, though all should be regulated for the common good and fairly taxed.

This program would lead to a new monetary paradigm where money and credit would be available by, as, when, and where needed, to facilitate trade between and among legitimate producers of goods and services. In this way trade and commerce will come to serve human freedom, not diminish it as is done with today’s dysfunctional partnership between big government trillions of dollars in debt and big finance with the entire world in hock.

Such a change would be a true populist revolution.

Richard C. Cook is a former federal analyst who writes on public policy issues. He is an advisor to the American Monetary Institute on its model monetary reform legislation soon to be introduced in Congress. His latest book is We Hold These Truths: The Hope of Monetary Reform. His website is:
A few final words on exactly where we are now from Professor Paul Krugman:

The Future Is Not What It Used To Be

Greg Ip points out that the Fed keeps expecting a vigorous recovery just around the corner, and it keeps not happening:

It’s kind of awesome. It was obvious very early on that this was likely to be a prolonged slump, requiring sustained policies to sustain demand if many years of high unemployment were to be avoided. Yet policy shops, including both the Fed and the White House, kept making optimistic projections. It’s hard to avoid the sense that this was and is wishful thinking, that people just didn’t want to face the responsibility of dealing with this big a problem.

So they didn’t, and the slump goes on.

Oh, and a side issue: why does John Taylor both say that this is a balance sheet recession — which is exactly what I’ve been saying — and oppose doing anything at all to help us deal with it?

Phony Deficit Hawks

So, just to summarize: Republicans are deeply, deeply concerned about the budget deficit; they believe that our nation’s future is at stake.

But they’re willing to sacrifice that future, not to mention risk the good faith and credit of the federal government, rather than accept so much as a single penny of tax increases as part of a deal.

Given all that, it seems almost redundant to mention that federal tax receipts as a percentage of GDP are near a historic low:

Federal receipts as % of GDP

So what’s it all about? The answer, of course, is that the GOP never cared about the deficit — not a bit. It has always been nothing but a club with which to beat down opposition to an ideological goal, namely the dissolution of the welfare state. They’re not interested, at all, in a genuine deficit-reduction deal if it does not serve that goal.

And everyone who has preached bipartisanship, who has called for a meeting of minds on the subject, is either a fraud or a chump.

Thank you, Professor! ______________________

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