Friday, August 21, 2020

Why Do So Many Republicans Back Biden: Aside From Trumpophobia, There's The Shared Value: Austerity


All those Republicans backing Biden... they should close out the campaign with a song and dance routine about how much they love Austerity. After all, the whole political class can unite around that-- both parties-- minus a handful of outliers like the Squad and some of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Biden himself is an Austerity Democrat-- always has been, always will be. In fact, when you look at the Democrats Schumer has handpicked as his team to go up against the Republican austeritarians in November, every single one of them is an Austerity kind of guy (or gal):
Mark Kelly (AZ)
Al Gross (AK)
Hickenlooper (CO)
Jon Ossoff (GA)
Theresa Greenfield (IA)
Barbara Bollier (KS)
Amy McGrath (KY)
Sara Gideon (ME)
Steve Bullock (MT)
Cal Cunningham (NC)
Jamie Harrison (SC)
MJ Heger (TX)
The two anti-Austerity Senate candidates, Marquita Bradshaw in Tennessee and Paula Jean Swearengin in West Virginia are not being supported by Schumer or the DSCC, You can contribute to both or either of their campaigns here.) As in all things Democratic Party-wise, they aren't as bad as the Republicans. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that "some Republicans are hoping to vote on a cheaper, pared-down version of the aid bill they unveiled last month, although some GOP aides said they saw early signs that it wouldn’t be able to muster a Senate majority. The new proposal, referred to as the skinny bill, is expected to cost about half of the earlier $1 trillion legislation, in an effort to appease GOP senators worried about the price tag of the federal government’s efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic." Skinny bill? It's an Austerity bill... in the middle of a pandemic and a recession that will likely turn into a Depression.

Here's how the scam works: Republican austeritarians run up gigantic deficits while faking reluctance or giving in to pressure. Then, the country up shit's creek, a Democrat is elected and Democratic austeritarians get busy bringing down the wasteful and corrupt deficit the GOP created. Repeat ad nauseum. This little dance will suit Biden just fine.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal quoted one of his top manservants, Ted Kaufman: "When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare. When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit… forget about Covid-19, all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited." Yes, Trump did a terrible job. That's why a nothing like Biden is going to win. But the pantry bare? What the hell is this idiot talking about. The pantry in his home could be bare-- although that seems unlikely-- but the federal government doesn't have a "pantry" to go bare.

Kaufman's statement caused a stir among progressives who've somehow persuaded themselves Biden's spots have miraculously changed color since they announced their support of him. That there is no room for any big federal projects was always built into the Biden cake; Kaufman just spilled the beans to people who don't want to hear it out loud. As I've tried explaining again and again-- Biden will win, the Democrats will take the Senate (with Schumer's Republican-lite menagerie) and Pelosi's meaningless and hopelessly disabled majority in the House will grow. Nothing will be accomplished and Democrats' hopes will be dashed-- like they were in 2010 after 2 years of Obama-- and the Republicans will defeat dozens of worthless Democrats in Congress, while Democratic voters sit on their hands. Get used to it. It's part of having chosen Joe Biden.

Adam Christensen just won his primary in the bid to become the Rep from FL-03 in the Gainesville area. "Would someone please explain to me why it is that whenever billionaires and hedge funds or banks want money we just handed out to them without thinking about the consequences," he asked yesterday. "But anytime that normal people need the basics we the 'pantry is empty'. This Fake Austerity, Corporate Welfare mindset is what has destroyed the Middle Class and Rural America. The American people are done being lied to. They are done being told that if they invest in the biggest companies in the world and bail them out that they will someday get that money back. It’s time we actually invest in people and stop letting those who have stolen our money for 40 years tell us “what is best for America."

Eric Levitz explained how this all works in his New York Magazine column, Biden Has Nothing To Fear But Fear Of Deficits Itself. Unemployment is still a catastrophe, as is the bankruptcy rate in mid-sized and small companies-- and "thanks to the GOP’s obstruction of COVID-19 relief, tens of millions of Americans just saw their monthly incomes slashed by $2,400, while cities and states throughout the country are preparing for mass firings of public workers. The macroeconomic consequences of these developments have yet to fully register. As is, more than 28 million Americans are at high risk of eviction before year’s end, according to a report released by the Aspen Institute earlier this month." So now is a time to pull the austerity rabbit out of the hat? Levitz is as sure of what a bad idea that is as are economist Stephanie Kelton and anyone in Congress who doesn't have their heads up their asses. "At present, the U.S. economy is on a neo-feudal trajectory," he wrote. "Almost all recessions hit the poor harder than the rich. But the COVID-19 crisis has been exceptional in its inequity. The sectors most vulnerable to a pandemic-induced collapse in demand-- such as restaurants and hotels-- are also among those most heavily staffed by low-income workers."

In this context, restoring full employment (and some semblance of shared prosperity) will require a combination of massive fiscal stimulus and progressive redistribution. Biden has given some indications that he understands this. Before the pandemic, the Democratic nominee pledged to spend $1.7 trillion over a decade on a green jobs program; last month, he vowed to spend $2 trillion over four years on climate stimulus. The overall price tag on his economic program is roughly $3.5 trillion according to Bloomberg. And if Congress fails to pass another round of COVID-19 stimulus before next year, that figure would ostensibly be higher (presumably, Biden agrees with House Democrats that the federal government should provide states and cities with nearly $1 trillion in fiscal aid). Encouragingly, Biden’s apparent openness to a robust stimulus program is shared by some self-styled fiscal hawks in Nancy Pelosi’s caucus. In July, the chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition, Derek Kilmer, told reporters that “getting bogged down in trying to identify offsets is not appropriate in an emergency.” The bulk of Kilmer’s moderate allies voted for the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act in May of this year.

...In 2009, a unified Democratic government declined to provide the economy with the level of stimulus necessary for spurring a rapid recovery in deference to deficit-phobia; specifically, the White House asked for less spending than its own economists believed to be warranted on the merits because it felt that a $1 trillion bill would be politically toxic. As a result, the post-2008 recovery was the slowest and weakest in modern U.S. history. That sluggish rebound had immense human costs as America’s most vulnerable workers-- those with limited education, disabilities, or criminal records-- were effectively locked out of the labor market for a decade. But the toll of inadequate stimulus was also macroeconomic: Since World War II, every time the U.S. economy entered a downturn, it eventually caught back up with its pre-recession growth trajectory-- until 2009. By failing to rapidly re-match workers with jobs, policymakers durably reduced our economy’s productive capacity as discouraged Americans permanently left the labor force and capital fell out of use.

Of course, as we know now, the Democrats’ decision to prioritize national debt minimization above full employment did not actually curb the growth of the national debt. To the contrary, it simply gave Donald Trump and the Republican Party more fiscal space to fill with tax cuts and Pentagon budget increases.

Critically, this historic spending spree has not triggered any of the adverse economic consequences that deficit hawks would have predicted. As the federal deficit soared, inflation and interest rates remained extraordinarily low. America has little trouble finding buyers for its debt or maintaining price stability. And by supplying global investors with the safe assets they demand-- in the form of U.S. debt securities-- America’s fiscal profligacy has arguably helped stabilize the global financial system.

Alas, Kaufman is nevertheless citing Trump’s profligacy as a reason why the party must once again condemn America’s most vulnerable to years of poverty and involuntary unemployment. Separately, the fact that Kaufman emphasizes the Trump tax cuts as a constraint on fiscal space raises questions about the sincerity of Biden’s commitment to repealing the bulk of those tax cuts.

A charitable reader might conclude that Kaufman merely takes a pessimistic view of the politics of deficits and taxation. Which is to say: He believes that Biden will lack the Senate votes to repeal the Trump tax cuts and enact green stimulus. But the metaphor Kaufman deploys, a bare cupboard, suggests that he believes there is an objective constraint on the government’s spending power, not a political one.

And this interpretation is buttressed by the fact that Biden himself has voiced nearly identical sentiments... [and is a] "deficit hawk at heart."

An optimist won’t have that much trouble dismissing these grim portents. After all, most of the moderates in Nancy Pelosi’s caucus voted in May to supply Donald Trump with $3.4 trillion in election-year stimulus (after already supplying with the $2 trillion CARES Act relief package). Is the party really going to be less willing to stimulate the economy during a Democratic president’s honeymoon than it was amid a Republican president’s reelection campaign?

On the other hand, if Democrats do eke out a Senate majority, Chuck Schumer will need the support of some of the most conservative lawmakers in the party to pass legislation. If the Biden administration is ambivalent about its own fiscal agenda, it’s hard to see how it will allay the doubts of Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, and their ilk. And if Biden’s promised green stimulus ends up amounting to nothing more than a campaign-website decoration, then America will “build back worse” for the second time this century.

Manchin and Sinema? Wait 'til we start having to deal with senators like Hickenlooper, Cunningham, Greenfield and Kelly! Oh... and the GOP-lite Biden administration. THIS Biden, suckers!!

UPDATE: Nate McMurray-- "Forget This Austerity Nonsense"

Goal ThermometerNate is taking on western New York Trump enabler and hereditary multimillionaires Chris Jacobs. This morning, Nate told me that in these vastly unprecedented times, "we have seen over and over Democrats obliterate their agendas by stumbling into GOP minefields of talking points and false choices. Forget this austerity nonsense. It doesn't make economic sense. Not just how we spend, but also how we tax, are indicative of the country's priorities and values. In Washington I will fight tooth and nail to hold the President to an aggressive plan of action on the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare crisis, reducing income and wealth inequality, tackling climate change, and strengthening Social Security and Medicare instead of putting them on the chopping block. I'm often asked what the greatest issue facing my district and the country is. It has become clearer and clearer: there are too few with too much economic and political power, and too many with too little. Instead of pontificating about austerity to fix Trump's years of horror, it's time to put the working class first and stop making them subsidize the rich. Fair taxation, combined with national spending that truly reflects the magnitude of the threats we face and the values we share as compassionate Americans, is our path forward. Ted Kaufman should stop worrying about 'empty pantries' in Washington, and worry more about the millions of empty pantries in the homes of struggling, working-class Americans that need a President and Congress ready to act boldly and decisively."


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At 7:23 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Chuck Schumer To America - Corporate Candidates To The U.S. Senate Mission Accomplish

Wait till 2022 rolls around

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok all you potted flora, what he's saying, while trying to still only blame nazis, is that biden and the democrap party SHALL cut SSI, Medicare and Medicaid. maybe make one or more of them go away.

and you are voting for biden and democraps because you need MFA (in a fucking pandemic!), which is the OPPOSITE of what they are going to do!!

gawd, how stupid can bipedal flora be?!?

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While the Republicans take a break & go to the Clubhouse to high-five & consolidate their tax cuts, deregulation and judicial takeover. The billionaire funded dem party ball markers will hold their strategic positions on the Green, until the republicans come back on the course from the Country Club House. Bloomberg bought an infomercial at the DNC and spent a 1/2 billion $$ to ensure that the Dems remain republican ball markers.

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Golf analogies??? I'm for having all courses torn up by those who could never afford the greens fees just to deny the greedy bastards their "relaxation".

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sanders: "Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfed"


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