Saturday, July 30, 2011

Of Course The Conservative Consensus Is Completely Wrong


I often go to sleep watching MSNBC. The other night I turned off the TV right after Ed Schultz's show, where he had Bernie Sanders on as a guest. Bernie's the greatest, a national treasure. We need more like him... desperately. The problem with going to sleep right after the Ed Show is that when I wake up, before I can catch myself, I've tuned into MSNBC's insidious Republican propaganda program, Morning Joe.

Yesterday before I had even fully opened my eyes and gotten out of bed, I was being bombarded by deranged Inside the Beltway consensus. Everyone agreed that America went wrong by passing Social Security and that that has led us down the road to ruin, culminating in Medicare, which must be ended or America is doomed. Thanks, MSNBC! And thanks, Democrats, for not even standing up against this well-planned attack on our country by the Austerity Monster.

Jared Bernstein is one of the few economists the Obama Administration hired for a top-level position who isn't a dedicated Wall Street shill and a class enemy of 95% of America. He didn't last long. His blog, On The Economy is worth following. Thursday he found the Beltway debate unbelievable.
–How could it be that we’re a less than a week out from a totally self-inflicted wound to our already frail economy?

–Why are policy makers spending every waking minute on deficit reduction when jobs are the most immediate problem facing the economy?

–How did a relatively small group of far right activists totally highjack the national debate?

According to Greg Sargent (citing E. J. Dionne), more people are beginning to buy the most insidious arguments about immediate fiscal austerity-- large spending cuts that kick in right away-- leading to growth, even in the light of the current slowdown, which is itself driven in part by the fading of fiscal support.

As I noted last night, the UK is a living example of the damage done by premature contraculation, but you don’t have to look abroad to see the problem. The figure shows how much diminished gov’t spending has shaved off of GDP growth in the past six months. No wonder employment is in a stall, driven by job losses in the public sector.

But those are facts. And facts are not winning. Facts, in fact, are getting crushed. One almost feels embarrassed to raise them in this climate, as if you’re impolitely butting your pointy head into the dream world of the Washington policy debate.

A highly subsidized Big Oil industry's second quarter haul is a staggering $35.4 billion profit, but the Conservative Consensus doesn't factor getting them to share the sacrifice as part of a problem worth addressing-- not like abolishing Medicare.

Yesterday I was talking with Ed Potosnak about the Blue America candidates' commitment-- absolute commitment-- to not just preserving but strengthening Medicare, for a healthier and more equitable society. Monday we're planning to release a statement from all the Blue America candidates. Ed mentioned that his mom was "near tears telling me about how important Medicare is to her, and she's not alone. I have heard a similar impassioned pleas to preserve Medicare from seniors and their families across the district." His opponent, wealthy Republican career politician Leonard Lance, has voted several times to gut Medicare. In fact... every Republican has.

We don't need more politicians like Leonard Lance. We need more political leaders like Bernie Sanders. I know I started this post with him on the Ed Show. At the bottom is a speech he gave on the floor of the Senate this week. It's worth-- really worth-- listening to the whole thing. Here's a painful synopsis for video-haters:
The rich are getting richer, and their effective tax rate is the lowest in modern history. Many corporations are enjoying huge profits and, because of outrageous loopholes, pay nothing in taxes. Among many other absurdities, we lose about $100 billion every year from companies and individuals who stash their wealth in tax havens in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and other locations.

And yet, the Republicans have been fanatically determined to protect the interests of billionaires and large multi-national corporations so that they do not contribute one penny toward deficit reduction. The Republicans want the entire burden of deficit reduction sacrifice to be placed on the elderly, the sick, children, and working families. That is morally wrong and, in terms of getting us out of this recession, bad economic policy.

Sadly, the Democrats have yielded far, far too much. In December, with the Democrats controlling the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate they extended Bush's tax breaks for the rich and lowered the tax rates on estates for the very rich. In April, they allowed tens of billions of dollars in cuts to vitally important programs for low- and moderate-income Americans.

And now, we find ourselves debating two plans. The Reid plan, which calls for $2.2 trillion in cuts over a 10-year period, includes $900 billion in cuts (which will be determined later by committees) in education, health care, nutrition, affordable housing, child care and many other programs desperately needed by working families. Appropriately, it calls for meaningful cuts in military spending and ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Reid plan does not require the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations to pay one nickel in deficit reduction.

The Reid plan is bad. The Boehner plan is much worse. It calls for large cuts in discretionary spending now and demands that this debt-ceiling discussion be revisited next year-- which is totally absurd and which will likely keep the Congress paralyzed.

Lastly, both plans call for a congressional committee to determine future efforts toward deficit reduction. Based on recent committees-- Bowles-Simpson, the Gang of Six, etc.-- I have little doubt that that new committee will call for major cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and will ask very little of the wealthy and multi-national corporations.

Meanwhile, while all of this is occurring in Washington the American people have consistently stated, in poll after poll, that they want the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes and they want to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. For example, a recent Washington Post poll found that 72 percent of the American people believe that Americans earning over $250,000 a year should pay more in taxes.

Given that reality, is there any reason to wonder why the American people are so angry and frustrated with what's going on in Washington?

If the GOP is determined to wage a fanatic class war against the American people, we need stalwart fighters who won't back down on our side to fight back. You will always find them here.

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 10:17 AM, Blogger Common Sense Guy said...

Oy vey you've got to be kidding. The government doesn't create jobs, companies do. Companies are in business to make money. Bil Oil should pay their "fair share" not some rate based on the comment that they "make too much money". That is crazy. Otherwise, you might as well tax the crap out of companies like Apple and Facebook. The make money hand over fist. The problem is, they also create THOUSANDS of jobs. And as far as Reid's plan goes, $2.2 trillion over ten years seems like a big number, except that's only $220 billion a year. Doesn't feel like that's gonna get it done. And Harry Reid will be dead and gone by then, leaving the problem to his nitwit successor. Time to make big, bold, strong, tough decisions instead of plying politics and fear.

At 10:42 AM, Blogger Matt Blizek said...

Tell teachers, firefighters, police officers, soldiers, librarians, park rangers, construction workers, etc that government doesn't create jobs. These cuts will hurt our economy and cause unemployment to rise even further. Our debt is a serious long term problem, but easily manageable as long as interest rates remain low (which they will unless our credit is downgraded).

The immediate problem is unemployment and lack of consumer demand, but good luck getting Washington to pay attention to anyone not cutting big checks to campaigns these days.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Grung_e_Gene said...

$250,000 isn't rich for tax purposes. $65,000 is rich for bashing teachers for union busting purposes.

The Republicans are wholly owned by the Plutocracy. Sadly, many Democrats are owned as well.

A small cadre of rich bankers, hedge fund managers, industrialists and politicos have set up an incestuous relationship to control the Government and transfer Trillions in wealth to themselves.

This is Class Warfare and the Plutocracy is all in.

At 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't imagine the agony of waking up to Morning Joe. Seriously, watch MSNBC online instead, that's what I do.

I can't comment on the rest right now, I might barf. I'm afraid that this is not my country anymore.


Post a Comment

<< Home