Wednesday, August 3, 2011

THEY OWN THIS PLACE! THEY DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT YOU! AT ALL ! (The Hostage Crisis Continues: On Debt Ceiling Deal Democrats Take a Dive)

[Desperately seeking donations (even as little as $5.00, please) for gas for this blog's continuation!]

George Carlin knew exactly what was coming up for U.S. taxpaying citizens. He said years ago that "they are coming for your Social Security!" He wasn't kidding.

The Hostage Crisis Continues: Why Obama Can't Pivot to Jobs and Growth Robert Reich With the hostage crisis behind him, the President is now ready to talk about the nation’s real problem. Nine paragraphs into his remarks today announcing the nation has paid most of the ransom the radical right demanded as a condition for maintaining the full faith and credit of the United States (he didn’t use these exact words), the President pivoted to the agenda he should have been talking about all along: “And in the coming months I’ll continue also to fight for what the American people care most about: new jobs, higher wages, and faster economic growth.”

But what precisely will he fight for now that the debt deal has tied his hands?

He says he wants to extend tax cuts for middle class families and make sure the jobless get unemployment benefits.

Fine, but the new deal won’t let him. He’ll have to go back to Congress after the recess (five weeks from now) and round up enough votes to override the budget caps that now restrict spending. What are the odds? Maybe a little higher than zero.

He says he wants an “infrastructure bank” that would borrow money from private capital markets to pay private contractors to rebuild our nations roads, bridges, airports, and everything else that’s falling apart.

Fine, but the new deal he just signed may not let him do this either – if the infrastructure bank relies on federal funds or even federal loan guarantees to attract private money. The only way he could create an infrastructure bank without sweetening the pot would be by privatizing all the new infrastructure. That means toll roads and toll bridges, user-fee airports, and entry fees everywhere else.

Apart from its potential unfairness to lower-income people, such a privatized infrastructure would have the same effect as a tax increase. After paying more for roads and bridges and all other infrastructure, Americans would have less cash for to spend on goods and services. That means no boost to the economy.

The President also wants to complete trade deals and reform the patent process. These may make the economy slightly more efficient, but they’re not going to have any perceptible positive impact on the lives of the 26 million Americans who are now either looking for work, working in part-time jobs but needing full-time ones, or have given up looking.

More importantly, the deal he just signed makes it impossible for the President and Democrats to launch any major jobs program – no WPA or Civilian Conservation Corps, no major lending program to cash-starved states and locales, no new help for distressed homeowners, and so on. Nada.

“We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put America back to work,” the President says, now that the hostage crisis is over.

But the sad truth is he and the nation remain hostage to the ideology of right-wing Republicans who won’t let the government spend more money. Yet if the government can’t spend more – at least this year and next, until the pump is primed and the economy is growing again – we won’t see job growth. And without job growth, the economy will remain anemic.

That’s why even the stock market is reacting badly to the end of the hostage crisis.

If you hadn’t noticed, the number of people unemployed or underemployed keeps growing. (We’ll know Friday how many it added in July, but remember it needs to add 125,000 a month just to keep up with the growth of the labor force. Anything below 125,000 means we continue to slide backward.)

The reason: Consumers, who are 70 percent of the economy, haven’t been able to pick up the slack. That’s because they’re still deep in debt. Their homes have plummeted in value. They can’t borrow. Their jobs are on the line and their wages are dropping.

So where will the demand come from if not government? The radical right points to the alleged “failure” of the stimulus program as evidence that government spending doesn’t work. The fact is it did work – it saved at least 3 million jobs, and would have saved far more if the stimulus was on the scale needed and directed to job creation.

To be sure, pump-priming is more difficult when the well is almost dry, as it is now. And widening inequality – the rich taking home an increasing share of the nation’s total income and wealth – has left the vast middle class with even less purchasing power.

But the pump still needs to be primed.

And the well has to be filled: The nation must also push for real tax reform that reverses the surge toward inequality – raising taxes on the wealthy, cutting them for the middle, and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for the poor.

To do this, though, requires that Americans understand the truth. But where will they learn it?

The radical right has not only captured the federal budget. In convincing so many Americans the problem is the size of government rather than their shrinking paychecks and growing economic insecurity, the radical right has also captured the American mind.

(This article was published at NationofChange.)
Matt Taibbi has been all over the culprits the entire time. And he's still hot on the trail of the motherlovers.
The Republicans in this debt debate fought like wolves or alley thugs, biting and scratching and using blades and rocks and shards of glass and every weapon they could reach. The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn't fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time - as fixed fights go, you don't see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did - but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn't bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won't be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

And what does that mean? Who spends hundreds of millions of dollars for what looks, on the outside, like rank incompetence?

It strains the imagination to think that the country's smartest businessmen keep paying top dollar for such lousy performance. Is it possible that by "surrendering" at the 11th hour and signing off on a deal that presages deep cuts in spending for the middle class, but avoids tax increases for the rich, Obama is doing exactly what was expected of him?

August 1, 2011 So the debt deal has finally been reached. As expected, the agreement arrives in a form that right-thinking people everywhere can feel terrible about with great confidence.

The general consensus is that for the second time in three years, a gang of financial terrorists has successfully extorted the congress and the White House, threatening to blow up the planet if they didn't get what they wanted.

Back in 2008, the congress and George Bush rewarded Hank Paulson and Wall Street for pulling the Cleavon-Little-"the-next-man-makes-a-move-the-n---er-gets-it" routine by tossing trillions of bailout dollars at the same people who had wrecked the economy.

Now, Barack Obama has surrendered control of the budget to the Tea Party, whose operatives in congress used the same suicide-bomber tactic, threatening a catastrophic default unless the Democrats committed to a regime of steep spending cuts without any tax increases on the wealthy.

Commentators everywhere are killing the president for his seemingly astonishing level of ball-less-ness. Both the New York Times house editorial and the Nobel prizewinning liberal columnist Paul Krugman are insisting the president should have invoked extreme measures to counter the radicals on the other side, using emergency legal tactics to unilaterally raise the debt limit. Or, at least, he should have threatened to do this, according to Krugman:

And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options...

At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.

Is Krugman right? Probably. In a perfect world, where the president was what he is supposed to be, i.e. a representative of that majority of American voters who elected him, that is what a good president would probably have done. No matter what the situation was with the deficit, or what cuts were or were not justified, a real leader would have invoked such powers at the very least to set a precedent that the government is not to be held hostage by irresponsible lunatics bent on invoking a catastrophe for purely political reasons.

But that isn't what happened. What did happen? The popular take is that Obama is a weak leader of a weak party who was pushed around by canny right-wing extremists. Observers like pollster Sydney Greenberg portray Obama and the Democrats as a group of politically tone-deaf bureaucrats who fail because the public associates them with a corrupt government that benefits the rich and connected.

The Democrats, Greenberg argues, could change their situation by showing the public that they genuinely represent the interests of ordinary working people. In his piece, "Why Voters Tune Out Democrats," he offers a list of things Democrats could do to turn things around:

What should Democrats do?

The Democrats have to start detoxifying politics by proposing to severely limit or bar individual and corporate campaign contributions, which would mean a fight with the Supreme Court. They must make the case for public financing of campaigns and force the broadcast and cable networks to provide free time for candidate ads. And they must become the strongest advocates for transparency in campaign donations and in the lobbying of elected officials.

IF they want to win the trust of the public, Democrats should propose taxing lobbyist expenses and excessive chief executive bonuses and put a small fee on the sale of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments. By radically simplifying the tax code to allow only a few deductions, the Democrats would generate new revenue and remove the loopholes that allow special interests to win favorable treatment ...

I think everything Greenberg says is true - except for the part about it being possible. His list of solutions would make sense as advice to a real political party.

But to a bunch of hired stooges put in office to lend an air of democratic legitimacy to what has essentially become a bureaucratic-oligarchic state, what good does such advice do? Would it have made sense to send the Supreme Soviet under Andropov or Brezhnyev a list of policy ideas for enhancing the civil liberties of Soviet citizens?

The Democrats aren't failing to stand up to Republicans and failing to enact sensible reforms that benefit the middle class because they genuinely believe there's political hay to be made moving to the right. They're doing it because they do not represent any actual voters. I know I've said this before, but they are not a progressive political party, not even secretly, deep inside. They just play one on television.

For evidence, all you have to do is look at this latest fiasco.

The Republicans in this debt debate fought like wolves or alley thugs, biting and scratching and using blades and rocks and shards of glass and every weapon they could reach.

The Democrats, despite sitting in the White House, the most awesome repository of political power on the planet, didn't fight at all. They made a show of a tussle for a good long time - as fixed fights go, you don't see many that last into the 11th and 12th rounds, like this one did - but at the final hour, they let out a whimper and took a dive.

We probably need to start wondering why this keeps happening. Also, this: if the Democrats suck so bad at political combat, then how come they continue to be rewarded with such massive quantities of campaign contributions? When the final tally comes in for the 2012 presidential race, who among us wouldn't bet that Barack Obama is going to beat his Republican opponent in the fundraising column very handily? At the very least, he won't be out-funded, I can almost guarantee that.

And what does that mean? Who spends hundreds of millions of dollars for what looks, on the outside, like rank incompetence?

It strains the imagination to think that the country's smartest businessmen keep paying top dollar for such lousy performance. Is it possible that by "surrendering" at the 11th hour and signing off on a deal that presages deep cuts in spending for the middle class, but avoids tax increases for the rich, Obama is doing exactly what was expected of him?

But hey! They are being paid really well to just act the part of "democrats." The radical right can't be paid anywhere near that much.

2 comments:

TONY said...

Good old Keith.

Suzan said...

And he's baaaaccckkk!!!

Thank goodness.

Amid the increasing whirlpool of rightwing death policies to "increase job growth" (tax cuts to infinity), flat taxes (remember the idiot Forbes scion?) and no-birth-control-for-you(!) 'thugs, we have Keith's little light to illuminate the coming darkness.

It won't be enough I fear, particularly when I read as I did yesterday in the WSJ that Obama is a "leftist" and MUST BE STOPPED!

The world upside down.

But Keith is baaacccckkk!

So, there's that.

Love you!

S

P.S. Almost forgot - with yesterday's market collapse, prepare to hear at full throttle how Obama's stimulus was a total disaster as IT DIDN'T WORK.

AND SHOULD NEVER BE TRIED AGAIN!!!

And nobody's listening to the counter arguments anyway.

Sheesh.

But Keith's back.