Monday, October 17, 2011

(Don't Frighten the Horses!) The SuperCommittee Works for US? (The Rise of The Regressive Right And The Reawakening of America)

Horses charge OccupyWallStreet demonstrators.


There have been many developments since the march against the financial tyrants (banksters and politicians) last Saturday, October 15, 2011. One of the most wondrous is the money raised by the OccupyWallStreet demonstrators (OccupyGreensboro has done pretty well also but still needs contributions).

Occupy Wall Street Shows Muscle, Raises $300K

That there has been a war against the lower classes since the establishment of the USA is not recent knowledge. Bob Reich, one of my favorite historians as well as economists and philosophers, doesn't deal with the retelling of this history gently.

The Rise of The Regressive Right And The Reawakening of America

Robert Reich
A fundamental war has been waged in this nation since its founding, between progressive forces pushing us forward and regressive forces pulling us backward.
We are going to battle once again.

Progressives believe in openness, equal opportunity, and tolerance. Progressives assume we’re all in it together: We all benefit from public investments in schools and health care and infrastructure. And we all do better with strong safety nets, reasonable constraints on Wall Street and big business, and a truly progressive tax system. Progressives worry when the rich and privileged become powerful enough to undermine democracy.

Regressives take the opposite positions.

Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann and the other tribunes of today’s Republican right aren’t really conservatives. Their goal isn’t to conserve what we have. It’s to take us backwards.

They’d like to return to the 1920s — before Social Security, unemployment insurance, labor laws, the minimum wage, Medicare and Medicaid, worker safety laws, the Environmental Protection Act, the Glass-Steagall Act, the Securities and Exchange Act, and the Voting Rights Act.

In the 1920s Wall Street was unfettered, the rich grew far richer and everyone else went deep into debt, and the nation closed its doors to immigrants.
Rather than conserve the economy, these regressives want to resurrect the classical economics of the 1920s — the view that economic downturns are best addressed by doing nothing until the “rot” is purged out of the system (as Andrew Mellon, Herbert Hoover’s Treasury Secretary, so decorously put it).

In truth, if they had their way we’d be back in the late nineteenth century — before the federal income tax, antitrust laws, the pure food and drug act, and the Federal Reserve. A time when robber barons — railroad, financial, and oil titans — ran the country. A time of wrenching squalor for the many and mind-numbing wealth for the few.

Listen carefully to today’s Republican right and you hear the same Social Darwinism Americans were fed more than a century ago to justify the brazen inequality of the Gilded Age:  Survival of the fittest. Don’t help the poor or unemployed or anyone who’s fallen on bad times, they say, because this only encourages laziness. America will be strong only if we reward the rich and punish the needy.

The regressive right has slowly consolidated power over the last three decades as income and wealth have concentrated at the top. In the late 1970s the richest 1 percent of Americans received 9 percent of total income and held 18 percent of the nation’s wealth; by 2007, they had more than 23 percent of total income and 35 percent of America’s wealth. CEOs of the 1970s were paid 40 times the average worker’s wage; now CEOs receive 300 times the typical workers’ wage.

This concentration of income and wealth has generated the political heft to deregulate Wall Street and halve top tax rates. It has bankrolled the so-called Tea Party movement, and captured the House of Representatives and many state governments. Through a sequence of presidential appointments it has also overtaken the Supreme Court.

Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Roberts (and, all too often, Kennedy) claim they’re conservative jurists. But they’re judicial activists bent on overturning seventy-five years of jurisprudence by resurrecting states’ rights, treating the 2nd Amendment as if America still relied on  local militias, narrowing the Commerce Clause, and calling money speech and corporations people.

Yet the great arc of American history reveals an unmistakable pattern. 
Whenever privilege and power conspire to pull us backward, the nation eventually rallies and moves forward. Sometimes it takes an economic shock like the bursting of a giant speculative bubble; sometimes we just reach a tipping point where the frustrations of average Americans turn into action.

Look at the Progressive reforms between 1900 and 1916; the New Deal of the 1930s; the Civil Rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s; the widening opportunities for women, minorities, people with disabilities, and gays; and the environmental reforms of the 1970s.

In each of these eras, regressive forces reignited the progressive ideals on which America is built. The result was fundamental reform.

Perhaps this is what’s beginning to happen again across America.
Did you think there was only one way to make up for the scoundrels' nonsense (lying us into wars and the stealing which resulted from the 30-year deregulatory hysteria)? The Simpson-Bowles "Steal Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid Trust Funds" Committee (Obama-appointed) does: through the backsides of the lower classes.

I don't agree, and neither do a lot of other thoughtful people. Of course, the upper classes and the benefactors of lobbyist dollars and politicians' largesse may differ.

Hey! Supercommittee! Here’s the Smart Plan to Save $7 Trillion, Create Jobs, Save Social Security

John Nichols
America is not broke. But America does have broken priorities.

Americans are waking up to this reality. That’s why they are occupying Wall Street, that’s why they are protesting in Madison, Columbus, Lansing and other state capitals, that’s why thousands marched Saturday in Washington and other cities on behalf of “Jobs and Justice.”

“We are in the midst of a major economic crisis. Millions of Americans are jobless, our schools and infrastructure are under-resourced, our kids are being denied real educational opportunities and their futures are at risk. It’s no wonder that people are frustrated,” says American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, a featured speaker at the Washington rally that honored the social and economic justice legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. while highlighting the ongoing nature of the civil rights icon’s struggle. “The march and rally are about hitting the streets and taking concrete action to change our nation to once again become the place where everyone has a shot at the American dream.”

The people get it, and unions and activist groups such as Progressive Democrats of America have been stepping up this weekend with dozens of events to the highlight the the issues from coast to coast.

But will Congress?

The answer will come, at least in part from the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which in coming weeks will have to decide whether to maintain the broken priorities that created the current mess—or to reject them and get the country on track toward fiscal stabiliy and economic renewal.

If the bipartisan committee perpetuates the austerity agenda that is being demanded by the Republcans and conservative Democrats—and too frequently references as a touchstone by President Obama—the United States will find itself in a worst-case scenatio that combines burdensome debts and stalled growth.

That does not have to be the case.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus is proposing a comprehensive plan to get the nation’s fiscal house in order while as the same time stabilizing the circumstance of social programs and spurring job growth. The CPC plan outlines $7 trillion in savings for the federal government and, just as critically, is proposes a new set of priorities that creates jobs, stabilizes communities and strengthens the social-safety net.

“It’s way past time to talk big or think big— it’s time to govern big and do what needs doing,” says CPC co-chair Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Arizona. “The American people are sick and tired of feeling too few in the government are responsive to their needs. While Republicans dither about cutting corporate taxes and dismantling Medicare, people are losing their homes, losing their jobs and losing their savings through no fault of their own. As a government, we need to look at ourselves and offer the country solutions that match the scope of the problems we face.

Anything less is a waste of time.”

The CPC plan combines smart economics with a sound set of priorities.

It starts by finding the money the United States needs now — not just to balance budgets but to make the right investments for the future:

Step One: Allow the Bush-era tax cuts to expire and scrap irresponsible estate tax changes, saving $3.95 trillion over the next decade.

Step One: Engineer a responsible end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving $1.6 trillion.

Step Two: Enact a “Fairness in Taxation Act,” creating a millionaire tax that generates $872.5 billion.

Step Three: Allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, saving $157.9 billion.

The CPC plan outlines numerous other proposals for raising revenues — including a financial transactions tax on speculators dealing in “exotic financial products” — and for using the savigs to assure the long-term stability of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Perhaps most importantly, however, the CPC plan recognizes the importance of job creation as a deficit-reduction tool. “While Republican politicians are busy slashing good paying American jobs from our economy, the Progressive Caucus continues to put job creation first with serious proposals to rebuild America,” says CPC Co-Chair Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota. “The most effective way to reduce the deficit is to put America back to work. Creating good jobs, making sure that everyone pays their fair share and protecting Social Security Medicare and Medicaid, are the best ways to ensure that all Americans are put on the path to prosperity, not just the wealthiest one percent.”

To that end, the caucus suggests that the supercommittee should include a job-creation component in its recommendations. To do that, the CPC recommends focusing on five initiatives:

1. Make it in America Again

“We must begin with a strategy to revive manufacturing in the United States. This requires developing something every other industrial nation has—a national plan for manufacturing. When people see the words ‘Made in America’ they know that they are getting the highest quality manufactured goods money can buy. We need a policy that reopens our factories and lets Americans do what they do best: produce the highest quality products in the world.”

2. Rebuild America

“With the cost of borrowing near zero, the construction industry flat on its back, and America’s decrepit infrastructure not only a competitive burden, but a threat to lives and safety, there is no better time to launch a major initiative to rebuild America. Create a national investment bank to leverage private capital and ensure that major projects are determined by merit, not by political muscle. Rebuild our half century old roads, bridges, locks and dams, while spurring creation of the roads of the future by connecting and empowering our country with fiber optic cable.”

3. Jobs for the Next Generation

“There is no shortage of work to be done in America and no shortage of workers to do it. One in four teenagers are officially unemployed, including nearly half of young African Americans and Latinos. We are witnessing a generation of crushed hopes, and we are squandering the talent of young Americans. Destructive cuts in public education threaten America’s economic success and we are now falling behind. We must increase federal support for hiring teachers as a catalyst for job creation and immediate and future economic development.

We must invest in the finest public education and job training in the world, education is no longer a guarantee of work. Let us make the guarantee of a good American job real for every young person. We should provide direct employment in the public sector and incentives for hiring in the non-profit sector and private sector. In addition, the caucus supports a ‘Train me and pay me’ program which would give stipends to workers and young people who are enrolled in job training programs.”

4. Lead the Green Industrial Revolution

A centerpiece of our economic strategy must be to create good jobs now by capturing the lead in the industrial revolution that is sweeping the world—starting with clean energy, electric cars, and efficient appliances. We need to invest in research and innovation so that America remains on the cutting edge of global technologies. Provide investment incentives to companies to create jobs here at home. Build a modern smart grid that can deliver efficiency and clean energy.”

5. Not Just Jobs — Good Jobs

“American workers want good American jobs, not poverty level wages without benefits that make it impossible to support a family or save for the future. We can start by making sure that middle-class Americans are free to organize and have a voice and a seat at the table again. If corporations can join together to hire an army of lobbyists, working Americans must come together and use their strength in numbers to protect the rights of middle class Americans.
We must ensure that businesses obey our labor laws and reward those that create good paying American jobs that protect our rights to equal opportunity and equal pay. Programs like TANF ECF have been proven to put people to work. While, we work on building these good jobs, we must ensure the long-term unemployed receive the full assistance and services they need so they can continue contributing to the economy.”

The supercommittee will, undoubtedly explore, and potentially embrace, a lot of bad ideas.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has come up with the right response to all of them: America is not broke. But it does need to fix some broken priorities.

“With the Supercommittee, the Republicans have manufactured yet another budget crisis,” says CPC Budget Task Force Chair Michael Honda, D-California.

“We can ‘go big’ and address our budget deficits by allowing the unpaid-for Bush tax cuts to expire and ending our unpaid-for wars on schedule. Anyone who says we need to cut education, cut the social safety net, cut Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare or provide more tax cuts to the rich, is pushing a political agenda, not sound fiscal policy.”

See why we need hundreds of new representatives?

Ones who can think of the country's welfare and not just their own?


bj said...

Great Post! And Yer spot on correct ... anyone who doesn't believe this is about the Haves and Have Nots is whistling in the dark. Complicity between Government and Corporations is the direct cause. Corporations are NOT people and their purchase of the political system MUST be stopped! They pay Republicans to Fight against a Progressive Social Democracy .... and they pay Democrats to NOT fight against the Republicans! Keep up the good werk and thanx for being a voice in the wilderness.......

Suzan said...

Thanks, BJ,

It's always nice to hear some good words from one who understands.

A lot nicer than preaching to a mute audience!

I really enjoyed your blog. You rock.

Love ya and come back often!

From the wilderness,