I don’t know what they call this in Chicago, but where I come from it’s known as kickin’ ass and takin’ names. President Obama addressing the UAW:
Not sure where this guy has been for about the last 3 years, but I hope he sticks around a while.
$2.2 trillion, Afghanistan, American Society of Civil Engineers, Austan Goolsbee, Bush tax cuts, businesses, certainty, customers, debt, deficit, demand, financial transaction tax, free trade agreements, infrastructure, Iraq, jobs, Medicare, patent process, President Obama, Social Security, Wall Street
This is so simple it’s ridiculous. The three major causes of the dramatic increases in debt and deficit are:
1) The Bush, now Obama, tax cuts.
2) The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
3) The financial collapse caused by Wall Street greed.
Ending the tax cuts just for those making over $250,000 will bring in $700 billion over 10 years. The wars cost about $140 billion a year. End both and we save $1.4 trillion over the same 10-year period. A financial transaction tax of just one quarter of one percent will result in $150 billion a year, $1.5 trillion over 10. There’s $3.6 trillion over 10 years, which is just about the same amount the debt ceiling dealers are talking about cutting spending. And we haven’t touched Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, etc. Yet none of these three are even on the debt ceiling/spending cut/revenue increases negotiating table. Why?
The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates the cost of repairing our crumbling infrastructure to be $2.2 trillion over 5 years. Do you see where I’m going here? Take the money we’ve saved, not from cutting the safety net out from under our most vulnerable who had nothing to do with the debt explosion and who did not benefit from it, but from the root causes and from those who did.
The result is millions of Americans have jobs. They’re paying income taxes, Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes. They no longer need unemployment, food stamps, or other forms of government assistance. They’re buying stuff, which creates demand for stuff, which creates more jobs, which creates more demand for stuff. And so on, and so on, and so on. Why is this so damn difficult?
But what do we get from our “leaders?” Gobbledegook and gibberish. Like President Obama’s remarks yesterday after the release of the horrible job numbers. Things like streamlining the patent process, advancing more so-called free trade agreements (which costs jobs rather that create them) and this:
“[T]o put our economy on a stronger and sounder footing for the future, we’ve got to rein in our deficits and get the government to live within its means, while still making the investments that help put people to work right now and make us more competitive in the future.
The sooner we get this done, the sooner that the markets know that the debt limit ceiling will have been raised and that we have a serious plan to deal with our debt and deficit, the sooner that we give our businesses the certainty that they will need in order to make additional investments to grow and hire and will provide more confidence to the rest of the world as well..”
Beside the fact that this is straight of the Republican playbook for economic growth, it’s nonsense (but I’m being redundant). Live within our means while making investments? What the hell is that? Give businesses the certainty they need? Businesses don’t need certainty, they need customers. Customers create jobs, not the ever-elusive confidence unicorn. Why is this so damn difficult?
The president’s mouthpiece at the Council of Economic Advisers, Austan Goolsbe offered more of the same:
“Today’s report underscores the need for bipartisan action to help the private sector and the economy grow – such as measures to extend the payroll tax cut, pass the pending free trade agreements, and create an infrastructure bank to help put Americans back to work. It also underscores the need for a balanced approach to deficit reduction that instills confidence and allows us to live within our means without shortchanging future growth.”
*Sigh* Can’t anybody here play this game?
1997, Alan Simpson, cuts, debt ceiling talks, Debt Commission, Erskine bowles, Jay Carney, milk cow 300 million tits, Newt Gingrich, preserve, President Obama, privatization, Social Security, strengthen
After the news broke yesterday about President Obama putting Social Security cuts on the table in the debt ceiling talks, the White House immediately went into CYA mode:
“White House spokesman Jay Carney commented on the reports concerning Social Security cuts Thursday morning.
“There is no news here,” Carney said. “The President has always said that while social security is not a major driver of the deficit, we do need to strengthen the program and the President said in the State of the Union Address that he wanted to work with both parties to do so in a balanced way that preserves the promise of the program and doesn’t slash benefits.”
Carney is right about one thing, there is no news here. The president has been consistent in his plans to “strengthen” and “preserve” Social Security. Like appointing Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles co-chairs of the so-called Debt Commission, which turned much of its focus to
cutting strengthening Social Security by raising the retirement age (a benefit cut) and re-figuring the COLA (another cut). Never mind that SS has nothing to do with either the debt or the deficit. Simpson has made no secret of his contempt for Social Security and its recipients:
“I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ’em too…We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits!”
And it was Erskine Bowles who, while serving as Bill Clinton’s Chief of Staff in 1997, was in the process of negotiating a deal with then-Speaker Newt Gingrich which included the partial privatization of Social Security before the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke and blew (so to speak) that out of the water.
Nothing new to see here. Move along.
A review of President Obama’s press conference yesterday from one W. Shakespeare: “Sound and fury signifying nothing.” Meaningless rhetoric and duplicity, with a dose of class warfare red meat to stir up the base for the 2012 election thrown in for good measure. And by my reading of the reactions from the Obama faithful in the blogosphere this morning, it worked.
The president mentions “taxing the rich” and his supporters voice their approval with a hearty, “Yeah, it’s about time, go get ‘em.” But he’s not talking about what they’re thinking about. He’s already
refused to been forced to not let the Obama Bush income tax cuts expire—twice. If he was serious about deficit reduction, as Willie Sutton once said, that’s where the money is.
The “revenue increases” Obama is referring to are trivial amounts like his oft-repeated slam at the tax break for corporate jet owners. By my count he mentioned this one in particular 4 times yesterday. Eliminating this break will bring in about $300 million in additional revenue–that’s million—a year. I’m not defending the owners of corporate jets by any stretch, but $300 million out of a $1.5 trillion deficit? Talk about a drop in the proverbial bucket.
A couple of the other “revenue raisers” that the White House is floating are an adjustment in the taxation of inventory and an increase in the tax rate on carried interest. The first would bring in about $7 billion a year, the second about two. Add those to the corporate jet tax break and the total comes to around $9.3 billion a year. By comparison, the tab for the war in Afghanistan is somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 billion—-a month.
How many college scholarships would that pay for, Mr. President?
In an address to the country tonight, President Obama is expected to announce the beginning of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan. The Washington Post is reporting that the numbers will be 5,000 by the end of this summer, another 5,000 by the end of the year and possibly another 20,000 by the end of 2012. Not enough and not fast enough for me, and according to Pew, not for the majority of the American people:
“Even by drawing down the 30,000 reinforcements, there still will be great uncertainty about how long the remaining 70,000 troops would stay there, although the U.S. and its allies have set Dec. 31, 2014, as a target date for ending the combat mission in Afghanistan.
…If Obama were to leave the bulk of the 30,000 surge contingent in Afghanistan through 2012, he would be giving the military another fighting season — in addition to the one now under way — to further damage Taliban forces before a larger withdrawal got started. It also would buy more time for the Afghan army and police to grow in numbers and capability.”
“Grow in numbers…” An audit from SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) showed that even though we’ve spent nearly $30 billion since 2002 to train and equip Afghan security forces, “Afghanistan’s government does not know exactly how many people work for its national police force.” And according to the Pentagon’s own report, “there are currently no Afghan National Police units that are able to operate independently.”
“…and capability.” This from an investigation into a 2009 battle in which 8 Americans were killed and 22 wounded:
“[F]irst-hand accounts from the battle at Keating, detailed in witness statements included in the investigation, provide a different, highly critical view.
One of the harshest came from two Latvian soldiers stationed at Keating and responsible for mentoring the three dozen Afghan troops at the base in mountainous Nuristan province near the Pakistan border. In interviews conducted after the attack, the Latvians told the U.S. investigators that the Afghan soldiers lacked “discipline, motivation and initiative.”
Close to 300 insurgents attacked Keating at dawn with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and guns. As the chaos of combat enveloped the base, the Latvians said they saw three Afghan soldiers at the aid station waiting to be treated for minor scratches and cuts. An Afghan platoon sergeant was in a corner of the station, curled up in a fetal position, they told the investigators.
Later, they opened a door to one of the buildings and found several other soldiers and Afghan security guards sitting on beds “anxiously waiting.” None of them had weapons at the ready or made an aggressive move when the door swung open. In other buildings, they found Afghan soldiers “in ones and twos, hiding under blankets in the fetal position.”
Whether we leave Afghanistan in stages or all at once, whether we do it in 2012, 2014, or 3014, Afghanistan is going to be what Afghanistan has always been. Not an actual country but a region on the map with lines drawn around it, with a weak, corrupt central government, and with never-ending tribal disputes and clashes. The only difference any kind of timeline will make is how many billions of dollars we pour in and how many flag-draped coffins we take out.
acquisition, bailout, Bush tax cuts, Chamber of Commerce, Ezra Klein, free trade, Gene Sperling, Goldman Sachs, India, JPMorgan Chase, Larry Summers, NEC, outsourcing, President Obama, South Korea, Wall Street, William Daley
Breaking news: In order to cut down on travel time through the revolving door for President Obama’s outgoing and incoming team of advisers, the White House is moving from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Here’s the new location:
“President Barack Obama is considering naming William Daley, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive and former U.S. Commerce secretary, to a high-level administration post, possibly White House chief of staff, people familiar with the matter said.
After serving as president of SBC Communications for more than two years, he joined New York-based JPMorgan, the second- biggest U.S. bank by assets, in 2004, serving as Midwest chairman and the bank’s head of corporate responsibility.”
Corporate responsibility. Like a 25% increase in outsourcing to India in 2009. Like using the $25 billion in bailout money that was intended to loosen up lending to become “more active on the acquisition side.” That kind of “corporate responsibility?”
Oxy (clap clap clap) moron (clap clap clap). Oxy (clap clap clap) moron (clap clap clap).
“The administration is seeking to repair relations with the business community after coming under fire from industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The nation’s biggest business lobbying group opposed Obama’s health-care and financial-regulatory overhauls and committed $75 million to political ads in the midterm congressional elections, mainly directed against Democrats.
…Obama is generating more optimism among corporate executives after a series of actions and overtures, including a deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts, efforts to boost exports such as a U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement, and a loosening of controls on some technology sales.”
Well isn’t that just wonderful. Makes me feel all warm inside.
Then there’s the search for someone to replace Larry Summers as head of the National Economic Council (NEC):
“…it seems that the shortlist to replace Larry Summers at the NEC has been whittled down to three men — Gene Sperling, Roger Altman, and Richard Levin…The…notable characteristic of the three is that they’re all multi-millionaires with close ties to Wall Street. None more than Altman, of course, who has his own bank. But Levin is on the board of American Express, which paid him $181,362 in 2009, and where he has shares and “share equivalent units” worth $539,000.”
That leaves Gene Sperling, currently one of Geithner’s underlings, and the person who is reportedly the leading candidate for the job:
“Goldman Sachs paid Sperling $887,727 for advice on its charitable giving. That made the bank his highest-paying employer. Even Geithner’s chief of staff Patterson, who was a full-time lobbyist at the firm, did not make as much as Sperling did on a part-time basis. Patterson reported earning $637,492 from Goldman Sachs [in 2008].”
“It is very hard to believe that Goldman Sachs wasn’t attempting to buy influence with a politically savvy economist who had good relations — and would later go to work for — the incoming Democratic administration.”
“…he has played key roles crafting the administration’s economic policies, most recently in forging Obama’s compromise with Republican leaders to extend the 2001 and 2003 income tax cuts.”
99ers, compromise, DADT, Dave Dayen, debt ceiling limit, Firedoglake, good deal, government funding, hostage, Huffington Post, letter, Lucy and the football, omnibus spending bill, President Obama, Reid, Senate Republicans, START, TANF, tax cuts, working poor
Now that President Obama’s “good deal” has been signed, sealed, and delivered thanks to the warm and fuzzy “spirit of compromise” floating around D.C. this holiday season, let’s take a look at who got goodies in their Christmas stocking and who got a lump of coal.
Republicans went into the lame-duck session with a letter to Majority Leader Reid, signed by all 42 Republican senators, stating that “any bill brought up before votes to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and a stop-gap funding bill to keep the government operating will be filibustered.” Those were their two main objectives—tax cut extension and stop-gap funding. They went two for two. As a bonus they also got a lower than expected estate tax.
The president gave them the first, after being, ahem, “forced” into it. Just as an aside, does anyone else find it strange that the tax cut extension got more votes in a Democratic-controlled House that the original Bush tax cuts did in a Republican-controlled one in 2001, 277–-240? But I digress.
Reid gave them the second on Thursday after another episode of Lucy and the football in which Republicans (surprise, surprise) reneged on their support for the omnibus spending bill. The result will likely be a short-term continuing resolution lasting a couple of months. At which time Republicans will control the House and demand ransom for their next “hostage”—the debt ceiling limit. Dave Dayen at Firedoglake:
“Republicans will have a chance in February of next year to set spending levels…And if anyone thinks that the result will not be a slashing of vital social safety net spending, take a look at how Reid folded last night, trading other priorities. The “stimulus” from the tax cut deal is GONE. It’ll be gone by February, at least. Republicans are fulfilling the Norquistian promise of lowering taxes massively, and then using that lack of revenue as a pretext to cut social spending. That’s what’ll happen in February. And the debt limit vote provides just another opportunity.”
But, as Laura Bassett at the Huffington Post points out, the cuts to safety net spending won’t have to wait until Republicans take over the House. Along with the working poor and the 99ers, there were others stiffed by the grand compromise:
“…federal funds for the Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) program have entirely dried up for the first time since 1996, leaving states with an average of 15 percent less federal funding for the coming year to help an ever-increasing number of needy families.
TANF, the federal program that replaced welfare under the Clinton Administration, provides a lifeline for families and workers who have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits. According to a new report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, “more homeless families will go without shelter, fewer low-wage workers will receive help with child care expenses, and fewer families involved with the child welfare system will receive preventive services” now that Congress has passed legislation that will end funding for the TANF Contingency Fund in 2011.”
Other parts of this “deal” are that the GOP will supposedly allow the passage of DADT repeal and START. Don’t be surprised if Lucy makes another appearance before that gets done. Republicans also promised to allow the confirmation of four of President Obama’s nominees to the federal bench. Four out of 38.
What shrewd traders.
alternative energy, Bush tax cuts, China, cloture vote, compromise, create jobs, dog and pony show, House, infrastructure, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mary Landrieu, Mitch McConnell, President Obama, Republicans, Senate, starve the beast
The Senate voted 83-15 yesterday to invoke cloture on President Obama’s
sell-out compromise on the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the top 2%. Nine Democrats and Bernie Sanders voted “no.” The nine were: Jeff Bingaman (NM), Sherrod Brown (OH), Russ Feingold (WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Kay Hagan (NC), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Pat Leahy (VT), Carl Levin (MI), and Mark Udall (CO). One of the poster children for duplicity and hypocrisy, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who previously said that the deal “borders on moral recklessness,” voted “yes.” I’m shocked.
“For Mr. Obama, the Senate vote offered affirmation that his administration had made the most of what seemed to be a rough political predicament, in which it was [BS Alert] forced to negotiate a tax agreement with the Bush-era tax cuts set to expire at the end of the month and Congressional Republicans empowered by their big victory in the midterm elections.
“This proves that both parties can in fact work together to grow our economy and look out for the American people,” Mr. Obama said.”
Absolutely. Those tax cuts have done such a wonderful job growing the economy in the past decade, no reason to expect that won’t continue for the next decade and beyond. Oh, but I forgot. The president is going to fight to end these cuts in two years. And if you’ll buy that….
“Mr. Obama said he understood that there were lawmakers unhappy with parts of the plan on both sides of the aisle, and he and his aides have made clear in recent days that he [BS Alert, Part Two] still fiercely disagrees with the Republicans over extending the lower tax rates on annual incomes above $250,000 per couple or $200,000 per individual.”
Co-president Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is also pleased:
“This bipartisan compromise represents an essential first step in tackling the debt — because in keeping taxes where they are, we are officially cutting off the spigot,” Mr. McConnell said in a floor speech.”
Cut off the spigot, aka starve the beast. Straight out of the Grover Norquist playbook for making government so small it can be drowned in a bathtub.
Don’t expect the final outcome in the House to be any different, after the dog and pony show, that is:
“By all indications, the anger and opposition to the deal among House Democrats shows no sign of abating. At the same time, however, House Dem leaders have sent very clear signs that despite their own unhappiness with the deal, they believe it would be irresponsible to sink the compromise and have no intention of thwarting the President’s will.
Here’s the challenge for House Dem leaders right now, as I understand it: Come up with a way for Dem members to vent their disapproval of the deal, so they don’t feel too stiffarmed and marginalized by the process, without it resulting in changes significant enough to cause Republicans to walk away.”
Heavens no. Let’s be sure we don’t do anything that might piss off the Republicans. Appeasement at all costs.
“The result could be a situation in which Dems hold a vote on amendments to the bill that are likely to fail… Dem leaders could hold a vote amending that provision, allowing Dem members to register disapproval. But the amendment would likely be opposed by almost all Republicans and some moderate Dems. So it would likely lose.”
Like I said. Dog and pony show.
Sen. Gillibrand had this to say:
“Although this deal includes important measures I have fiercely advocated for, extending Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy will saddle our children with billions of dollars of debt. With unemployment near 10 percent and a growing budget deficit, every dollar in this deal should be spent in a way that creates jobs and gets our economy growing, and tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires do not create jobs and will not help our economy grow.”
Creating jobs and getting the economy going. Not with more trickle-down bullshit, but the way China is doing it. Yes, China:
“The Chinese have doubled their spending on education – with stunning results – and continue to build the world’s best infrastructure. Reuters reports that Beijing is contemplating a plan to invest $1.5 trillion over the next five years in seven crucial industries. The targeted sectors are alternative energy, biotechnology, new-generation information technology, high-end equipment manufacturing, advanced materials, alternative-fuel cars, and energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies…While China spends its money to invest in long-term growth, it lends us cash so that we can give ourselves [well, not all of ourselves, just the chosen few] one more big tax break. Someone in Beijing must be smiling.”
Not just smiling, laughing.
99ers, Bernanke, Camden, COLA, corporate chiefs, firefighters, foreclosure fraud, gasoline, Geithner, home heating oil, laid off, legal aid, police, President Obama, quantitative easing, roundtable, Social Security
“President Obama will host a roundtable with about 20 corporate chiefs on Wednesday, according to the White House, part of an attempt to ease strained relations with business.
Expected for the session at the Blair House, across the street from the White House, are executives from a range of industries, including American Express, Cisco Systems, Dow Chemical, Google, Motorola, Intel, UPS and PepsiCo, according to people involved in the planning. But the White House said it would not divulge attendees until the meeting.
With the mood for the meeting already lightened by his recent announcements of a trade deal with South Korea and a compromise on tax cuts with Congressional Republicans, Mr. Obama and the executives will discuss a variety of issues, said Jen Psaki, the White House deputy director of communications. Among the topics will be deficit reduction, an overhaul of the tax code, government regulation, export promotion, public-private investments in areas like technology and clean energy, and efforts to improve education and job skills, Ms. Psaki said.”
How about this “roundtable” Mr. President. How about meeting with the long-term unemployed—the 99ers—asking them how they intend to get by on the big, fat zero your “compromise” did for them? What about meeting with the firefighters and police who have been laid off due to state budget cuts, like in Camden, NJ where half of the police and a third of the firefighters are headed out the door.
What about meeting with the Social Security recipients who haven’t had a COLA increase in two years, and the federal workers whose pay you propose to freeze? Ask them how they’re going to handle rising gasoline prices, which could reach $3.50 a gallon by spring, and home heating oil prices, which are 13% more than last winter, brought on by Fed Chairman Bernanke’s “quantitative easing.” I guess they’ll have frozen homes to go along with their frozen pay. Ask the victims of foreclosure fraud how they feel about being denied legal aid by Treasury Secretary Geithner.
What about “easing strained relations” with these people? Or don’t they matter? Probably not. The unemployed, the laid off firefighters and police, Social Security recipients, and those facing foreclosure don’t write the checks with enough zeroes on them to finance that billion dollar re-election campaign like the CEOs do.
Bernie Sanders, Chamber of Commerce, Charles Ferguson, Citigroup, class war, Commodity Futures Modernization Act, derivatives, free trade, George Carlin, Glass-Steagall, Inside Job, Jacob Lew, Mitch McConnell, NAFTA, oligarchs, OMB, Peter Orszag, pork, President Clinton, President Obama, Senate, South Korea, speech, too big to fail
Just one small segment of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ marathon speech on the floor of the Senate yesterday, dealing with the class war and the winners and losers in that war:
“…in the year 2007, the top 1 percent of all income earners in the United States made 23.5 percent of all income. The top 1 percent earned 23.5 percent of all income–more than the entire bottom 50 percent.”
“From 1980-2005, 80% of all income went to the top 1%.”
Not much question who the winners are, and not much question now whose side President Obama is on. Charles Ferguson, director of Inside Job, wrote in Salon:
“It is…overwhelmingly clear that President Obama and his administration decided to side with the oligarchs — or at least not to challenge them. This raises the question of why they have made this choice, and whether it is a correct (in the sense of rationally self-interested) calculation on their part.
As to the “why,” several explanations have been proposed. One is that the president, as a matter of individual psychology, is extremely conflict-averse, preferring to avoid fights no matter how important. A second hypothesis is that the president is simply doing the most he can, given the political climate and the furious lobbying effort with which he is confronted. This explanation, however, is belied by [his] personnel appointments, among other evidence.”
“A more disturbing possibility is that the Obama administration has simply codified a new strategic equilibrium in American politics, one first devised by the Clinton administration, in which both parties are supine with regard to the financial sector and the wealthy.”
President Obama brought out former President Clinton yesterday to endorse his “deal.” Bill Clinton, whose “bi-partisan outreach” during his administration left two ticking time bombs in the economy in the form of the repeal of Glass-Steagall, which created “too big to fail,” and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which banned the regulation of derivatives.
Sen. Sanders brought up the subject of free trade. Just last week President Obama signed the South Korean version of NAFTA. I hear Ross Perot’s giant sucking sound again. All you need to know about the South Korean “deal” it is that it got two thumbs up from those two staunch defenders of the middle-class and working people–the Chamber of Commerce and Mitch McConnell.
As good as it was to hear Sen. Sanders’ speech yesterday, I fear he is just a voice crying in the wilderness. The president’s “deal” is now being loaded up with enough pork to buy enough votes to win passage. In short, the fix is in, the wealthy and powerful will win again. We keep going back to George Carlin, “It’s a big club and we’re not in it.”