Today on the train, looking over people’s shoulders to read the headlines from the NY Post, Daily News, Times, and Wall Street Journal, many of them had the same slug for Obama’s speech yesterday (text here) — “We’re a Triple-A Country” — but then noted the market dropped even further after the speech. As if Obama had failed, which indeed he did, in my view, as we’ll see.
The speech yesterday reminded me of another speech, Jimmy Carter’s “malaise speech” which also was mocked afterwards as a sign that Carter was clueless. And that Reagan ran all over Carter in the 1980 election in part because Carter was being Carter, too touchy feely and emotional when the country wanted a robust response to the energy crisis of the late 1970s. So I looked up both speeches and found some rather unexpected differences. Read the rest of this entry »
Perhaps you are like me and, upon hearing last night or this morning that Wall Street had taken a dive, dropping 512 points, losing two trillion in market value globally, perhaps you thought, so what? Where is the surprise?
Of course the US and global economy suck. Of course businesses are raking in piles of cash while working their employees harder and refusing to hire. Of course politicians refuse to do what got us out of the Depression and insist on doing what caused then prolonged the Depression. Of course consumers can’t spend: there’s almost 30 million unemployed and barely employed (part time and looking for a job) workers, not to mention about half of homeowners have mortgages underwater. Who would hire in this climate? Who would spend beyond the necessities?
This is news?
The real story is that there is so much money fleeing traditional markets that Bank of New York Mellon has started to charge large depositors for parking cash with their bank. And Treasury bond yields dropped dramatically, down to 0.08% return. People are giving their money to the near bankrupt, corrupt, and politically clueless US government in exchange for bonds and near zero return.
Digging deeper, perhaps the real story is that the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street are clueless. Nope, wrong word. They are dumb. Apparently they would not know something was in their own best interest if it bit them in the ass.
Indeed, we should play a game, Who is the Most Clueless? On the flip … Read the rest of this entry »
From the NY Times:
No matter how the immediate issue is resolved, Mr. Obama, in his failed effort for greater deficit reduction, has put on the table far more in reductions for future years’ spending, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, than he did in new revenue from the wealthy and corporations. He proposed fewer cuts in military spending and more in health care than a bipartisan Senate group that includes one of the chamber’s most conservative Republicans.
To win approval of the essential increase in the nation’s $14.3 trillion borrowing ceiling, Mr. Obama sought more in deficit reduction than Republicans did, and with fewer changes to the entitlement programs, because he was willing to raise additional revenue starting in 2013 and they were not. And despite unemployment lingering at its highest level in decades, Mr. Obama has not fought this year for a big jobs program with billions of dollars for public-works projects, which liberals in his party have clamored for. Instead, he wants to extend a temporary payroll tax cut for everyone, since Republicans will support tax cuts, despite studies showing that spending programs are generally the more effective stimulus.
(my emphasis) Notice the disconnect? Cuts in the payroll tax that fund Social Security are cuts to Social Security. Yet the Times reporter and their editor are so into boilerplate reporting they completely ignore what is in their reporting. They pretend, instead, that you can cut payroll taxes indefinitely and magically Social Security will continue to be funded at “normal” levels (actually, normal is what the Europeans pay, around 80% of pre-retirement income, while the US pays around 40-60%).
Then there’s this telling bit:
In his budget proposal in January, Mr. Obama declined to suggest a plan along the lines proposed by a majority of his bipartisan fiscal commission, which in December recommended $4 trillion in savings over 10 years through cuts in military and domestic programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, and a tax code overhaul to lower rates while also raising more revenue.
Even though Mr. Obama was widely criticized, administration officials said at the time that to have embraced that approach then would have put him too far to the right — where he ultimately wanted to end up in any compromise with Republicans, not where he wanted to start.
But by this month, in ultimately unsuccessful talks with Speaker John A. Boehner, Mr. Obama tentatively agreed to a plan that was farther to the right than that of the majority of the fiscal commission and a bipartisan group of senators, the so-called Gang of Six. It also included a slow rise in the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65, and, after 2015, a change in the formula for Social Security cost-of-living adjustments long sought by economists.
“He’s accommodated himself to the new reality in Washington,” said Tom Davis, a former House Republican leader from Virginia. “That’s what leaders do.”
But Congressional Democrats and liberal groups objected.
First, “long sought by economists”? Which economists? Right wing economists, surely, if it is true these COLA adjustments decrease the payout people receive in retirement. More lazy reporting from the Times to not name names of economists and/or indicate their ideology. And remember, people pay into Social Security. It’s a separate program from the federal budget. Paying out less is a form of theft completely unrelated to the larger issue of the federal debt. Paying out less is a right wing wet dream. It’s not morally fair or economically sensible (you don’t want half dead seniors littering the sidewalk, begging for food).
Bernie Sanders is still correct: the pundits, the lobbyists, the politicians, they have zero clue as to the impact of the programs they propose. The wealthiest who pay their lobbyists and offer jobs to politicians, they know: pressure to increase their taxes will go down if the government spends less. Even if it means hundreds of thousands of more layoffs and more economic misery for all Americans. The Times should call these details out. This is not a horse race: it is life or death for many Americans. And for many others, it is the difference between economic security and insecurity, a job or no job.
As for this article, the journalist has not been paying attention to who has benefitted from Obama’s policies to date. They are traditional Republican constituencies: Wall Street, Big Business, and the wealthy. This is not a rightward tilt, or edging to the right. This is a Republican President calling himself a Democrat because the Democratic party is captive of the same forces that have captured the Republican party, and the media.
If it was up to me there would be no negotiations, but since there are “negotiations” I found this funny.
House Democrats are once again afraid they’re about to get sold out by a president from their own party.
As bipartisan debt limit negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House rev up, a number of Democrats are worried that President Barack Obama will agree to a deal with the GOP that cuts federal spending too deep, undermines the social safety net, slashes entitlement programs and does not include a single dime in tax increases.
These Democrats, mainly progressives and liberals, fear the White House will be too quick to give in to an ideologically rigid group of tea-party-driven Republicans who won’t even consider Democratic proposals to close certain tax loopholes or cut off certain tax credits to raise more revenue. Democrats are scheduled to meet with Obama at the White House on Thursday.
. . .
Some lawmakers were upset that Obama seemed to indicate to House Democrats during a recent White House session that he wanted to “get past” the debt ceiling debate — a sign that he was most interested in the politics of a mega-budget deal.
“I think the president and his team have their calculation where they want to posture him for his reelection,” Grijalva added. “And we have our calculation, too, and we think that our base and our constituency is not going to be happy with the deal.”
Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio said his Republican colleagues told him that Obama was moving toward the GOP position on spending cuts after they left their own meeting with the president at the White House.
. . .
the secretive nature of the budget talks doesn’t help calm nerves, said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.).
“I continue to hope and pray that we’re not going to be thrown under the bus, that the cuts aren’t going to be all focused on programs that benefit poor people, the most vulnerable,” McGovern said. “It’s difficult, because you have an unreasonable new majority in the House that’s making unreasonable demands. But I got enough to be depressed right now without thinking what the debt ceiling deal is going to be. I will get depressed when I see it.”
Any deal that liberals dislike could have reverberations within the Democratic base, and progressive lawmakers warn that Obama needs the grass roots to stay fired up for 2012.
Am I the only one who’s sick of these people fretting? Nonsense rightist ideology is pushing this country off a cliff, and these people are standing by, twiddling their thumbs, watching the train wreck in slow motion, and telling reporters, ‘we just wish they’d listen to us.’
At what point do these people stop with the self-pity routine and start building the revenue models and infrastructure necessary to drive the public discussion and muscle-through left policy?
Sometimes, just having your heart in the right place isn’t enough, especially when the consequences of inaction, or action of insufficient scale and effect, are so dire.