Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Democracy Fatally Threatened? (Well, North American Democracy, Anyway) & One Good Reason Not To Vote for Obama? Freeloader Erskine Bowles Set To Run Treasury! (Into the Ground)

As we move ever closer to declaring outright war on Iran (and make no mistake about it, that's what the weasel words of "necessary air defense," "attacked American officials," and "protection of civilians" means in the Middle East when used by those not living there), even more middle-of-the-road liberals take a stand against the forces of impending darkness. The leftists have, of course, been screaming about it for years. (But who listens to them?)

And American democracy goes down the tubes once and for all.

What Mitt Romney Really Represents

Robert B. Reich

September 22, 2012

 It’s not just his giant income or the low tax rates he pays on it. And it’s not just the videotape of him berating almost half of America, or his endless gaffes, or his regressive budget policies.
It’s something that unites all of this, and connects it to the biggest underlying problem America faces — the unprecedented concentration of wealth and power at the very top that’s undermining our economy and destroying our democracy.
Romney just released his 2011 tax returns, showing he paid $1.9 million in taxes on more than $13 million of income last year — for an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent. (He released his 2010 return in January, showing he paid an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent.)
American has had hugely wealthy presidents before — think of Teddy Roosevelt and his distant cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt; or John F. Kennedy, beneficiary of father Joe’s fortune.
But here’s the difference. These men were champions of the working class and the poor, and were considered traitors to their own class. Teddy Roosevelt railed against the “malefactors of great wealth,” and he busted up the oil and railroad trusts.
FDR thundered against the “economic royalists,” raised taxes on the wealthy, and gave average working people the right to form unions — along with Social Security, unemployment insurance, a minimum wage, and a 40-hour workweek.
But Mitt Romney is not a traitor to his class. He is a sponsor of his class. He wants to cut their taxes by $3.7 trillion over the next decade, and hasn’t even specified what “loopholes” he’d close to make up for this gigantic giveaway.
And he wants to cut benefits that almost everyone else relies on — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, unemployment insurance, and housing assistance.
He’s even a warrior for his class, telling his wealthy followers his job isn’t to worry about the “47 percent” of Americans who won’t vote for him, whom he calls “victims” and he berates for not paying federal incomes taxes and taking federal handouts.
(He mangles these facts, of course. Almost all working Americans pay federal taxes — and the federal taxes that have been rising fastest for most people are Social Security payroll taxes, which aren’t collected on a penny of income over $110,100.

Moreover, most of the “47 percent” whom he accuses of taking handouts are on Medicare or Social Security — the biggest “entitlement” programs — which, not incidentally, they paid into during their working lives.)
Money means power. Concentrated wealth at the top means extraordinary power at the top. The reason Romney pays a rate of only 14 percent on $13 million of income in 2011 — a lower rate than many in the middle class — is because he exploits a loophole that allows private equity managers to treat their income as capital gains, taxed at only 15 percent.
And that loophole exists solely because private equity and hedge fund managers have so much political clout — as a result of their huge fortunes and the money they’ve donated to political candidates — that neither party will remove it.
In other words, everything America is learning about Mitt Romney — his tax returns, his years at Bain Capital, the video of his speech to high-end donors in which he belittles half of America, his gaffes, the budget policies he promotes — repeat and reenforce the same underlying reality.  
So much wealth and power have accumulated at the top of America that our economy and our democracy are seriously threatened. Romney not only represents this problem. He is the living embodiment of it.
(Robert Bernard Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers “Aftershock" and “The Work of Nations." His latest, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.)

Since Obama's appointment of Geithner and Summers as advisors in 2009, and then the arch-financier Erskine Bowles (as The People's representative) to the Catfood Is Good Enough For Old People Commission, I've had my doubts about the Democratic alternative for the lower classes. With Bowles' recent reemergence onto the scene, it becomes clear that the Rmoney Team isn't the only Money Team to fear. Julius Caesar was stabbed by some of his closest friends.

Since Romney Raised the Issue of Freeloaders, What Is Erskine Bowles?

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Since we seem destined to have a national debate on the topic of government freeloaders in the wake of the Romney fundraising video, it might be worth asking how we think about someone getting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for sitting on a corporate board for which they did little obvious work.
Erskine Bowles, a possible future Treasury Secretary, is of course the poster child for such people.
Mr. Bowles has earned millions of dollars sitting on corporate boards over the last decade.
The stock prices of the companies on whose boards he sat have mostly plummeted.
Since 2003 the Erskine Bowles stock index has lost more than one third of its value.
By comparison, the S&P 500 has risen by more than 50 percent. If Mr. Bowles was trying to serve shareholders, he has not done a very good job.
If people think that this is a private matter, with Mr. Bowles just ripping off shareholders while Governor Romney's freeloaders are ripping off taxpayers, think again. One of the companies on whose board Mr. Bowles sat, General Motors, went bankrupt with substantial costs to the government.
Another, Morgan Stanley, would have gone bankrupt without extraordinary assistance from the Fed and Treasury, which continues to this day in the form of implicit too big to fail insurance.
So, if we want to have a debate about people who freeload on the rest of the country, we should have folks like Erskine Bowles at center stage.
Of course he is in a much higher income bracket than the folks who get Social Security or unemployment insurance from the government, but that fact should not be allowed to color the debate.


Why Wasn't Erskine Bowles Means Tested and Drug Tested?
- written by Last Mover, September 18, 2012

It seems this would be routine under the Romney plan to root out freeloaders like himself whose "success" depends on welfare from the government in the form of enabled market power designed to shield them from competition in free markets they preach for everyone else, along with ordinary welfare handouts like tax loopholes.

Another useful test would be a lie detector test to identify those declaring themselves as "victims" to qualify for government largesse.

Line up the upper 1%, strap them in the chair and ask these two questions:

Are you or have you every been a member of the Rent Seeking, Bailout Seeking, Subsidy Seeking Party?

Does your economic survival depend on victims of this party?

- written by bmz, September 18, 2012

"Of course he is in a much higher income bracket than the folks who get Social Security" Oh really? I'll bet you dollars to donuts that my "social security" marginal income tax rate blows his off the board. I am 71 years of age, and am self-employed part time. My AGI is ~$55,000/yr. At that income, I must pay, in addition to my regular tax, a tax on 85% of my SS benefits( for every marginal dollar of income, I pay a tax on $1.85). My total marginal income tax rate is: 25% X 1.85 = 46.3% +12.4%(self-employment tax) +7.5%(state income tax) = 66.2% total marginal income tax rate.

- written by urban legend, September 18, 2012

I'll bet Bowles is one of the DC VSPs who are all hearts for high-stakes testing for teachers -- but not high-stakes quantitative evaluation of performance for himself. I'm sure he has lots of explanations for his horrid performance that are a lot less convincing than having to "add value" teaching low-income inner-city kids with few back-up resources.

I love the Erskine Bowles Stock Index. Obama should be hit over the head with it at every opportunity so he can see the political damage such an appointment will cause.

Romney Family Welfare Freeloaders

- written by Thomas Dooley, September 20, 2012

Wikipedia reports that "The (Romney) family subsisted with other Mormon refugees on government relief in El Paso, Texas…" after Mitt's foreign born Dad, George, was chased out of Mexico with the rest of the Mormons by the Mexican Revolution.

This means that while it's absolutely crazy to believe that anywhere near 47% of Americans are on welfare at any one time it isn't crazy to name Romney's own family as an example of welfare freeloaders who once existed on government relief.

What the hell is wrong with Mitt? Hard times do happen to people and they sometimes need help. That happen to his own family, to his very own father, grandfather and grandmother and his own aunts and uncles.

The United States plunged to its lowest ever ranking on the Economic Freedom of the World report, dropping from second place out of 144 nations in 2000 to a humiliating 18th in this year's annual survey.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio appeared on CNBC and warned of potential social unrest and what it could mean.

Containment of a Nuclear-Capable Iran is Not an Option 
Senate Reaffirms US Commitment to Stop Iran from Obtaining Nukes
By The Associated Press
The Senate has overwhelmingly approved a resolution that reaffirms US efforts to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and says containment of a nuclear-capable Iran is not an option.

War With Iran
An Impeachment Warning to Obama

Must Watch Video
This bi-partisan resolution, reasserts the power of Congress to declare war, and states that any President who circumvents Congress, unless the United States is attacked, will face an article of impeachment.


rjs said...

speaking of the catfood commish, word is that obama might do social security over during the lame duck

thinking is they'll change it to a chained CPI, which could cost retirees 3% over 10 years...

they dont want them old folk to get fat...

Suzan said...

Or to ever vote Democratic again?

Love ya, baby!


TONY said...

Good Ol' Mitt. Believing in America. Banking in the Caymans. Did you see Obama on 'The View'? What I would call paper bag viewing. :)

Suzan said...

Hmmm, T.

Am I sorry I missed it?

Cause I'm sure missing his announcement that he's not going to "strengthen" our social safety net programs by ridding them of their already paid-for value, and creating true national health insurance for all.

But I'm a realist.

Love ya,