Category Archives: economic stimulus

Chauncey Gardner For President

Democrats, please learn how to message.

I know. I am repeating myself, but it’s just not sinking in:

What we require now is a new framework for thinking and talking about the economy, grounded in modern understandings of how things actually work. Economies, as social scientists now understand, aren’t simple, linear and predictable, but complex, nonlinear and ecosystemic. An economy isn’t a machine; it’s a garden. It can be fruitful if well tended, but will be overrun by noxious weeds if not.

In this new framework, which we call Gardenbrain, markets are not perfectly efficient but can be effective if well managed. Where Machinebrain posits that it’s every man for himself, Gardenbrain recognizes that we’re all better off when we’re all better off. Where Machinebrain treats radical inequality as purely the predictable result of unequally distributed talent and work ethic, Gardenbrain reveals it as equally the self-reinforcing and compounding result of unequally distributed opportunity.

Ah, terrific. A new way of looking at the economy, using metaphors the average American can understand. Such as:

Consider regulation. Under the prevailing assumption, regulation is an unfortunate interruption of a frictionless process of wealth creation in a self-correcting market. But Gardenbrain allows us to see that an economy cannot self-correct any more than a garden can self-tend. And regulation — the creation of standards to raise the quality of economic life — is the work of seeding useful activity and weeding harmful activity.

Yes, that’s all very well and good. It’s perfectly logical, wonderful in fact. But it will go nowhere because while I agree a new way of discussing these issues is needed, it would help if you didn’t crib from a 1979 Jerzy Kosinski classic. Then again, the Tea Party is nothing but a rip-off of a 1992 Tim Robbins movie.

Is this what the American discourse has become? As much as I agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments, it’s hard not to laugh when I read stuff like this:

Or take taxes. Under the efficient-market hypothesis, taxes are an extraction of resources from the jobs machine, or more literally, taking money out of the economy. It is not just separate from economic activity, but hostile to it. This is why most Americans believe that lower taxes will automatically lead to more prosperity. Yet if there were a shred of truth to this, then given our historically low tax rates we would today be drowning in jobs and general prosperity.

Gardenbrain, in contrast, allows us to recognize taxes as basic nutrients that sustain the garden. A well-designed tax system — in which everyone contributes and benefits — ensures that nutrients are circulated widely to fertilize and foster growth. Reducing taxes on the very wealthiest on the idea that they are “job creators” is folly. Jobs are the consequence of an organic feedback loop between consumers and businesses, and it’s the demand from a thriving middle class that truly creates jobs. The problem with today’s severe concentration of wealth, then, isn’t that it’s unfair, though it might be; it’s that it kills middle-class demand. Lasting growth doesn’t trickle down; it emerges from the middle out

I mean yes, the garden is a lovely metaphor but I just can’t take this shit seriously. Here’s an idea: instead of all the convoluted “the garden needs nutrients” blather, how about just asking a simple question: We’ve had 12 years of the Bush tax cuts. Where are the fucking jobs?

Now, was that so hard?

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Filed under economic stimulus, economy, Media, taxes

Govt. Can’t Create Jobs (Except When It Can)

Proving yet again that the entire Republican Party ideology is completely empty, devoid of any meaning whatsoever, even by those who spout the talking points the loudest, we have today’s Republican hypocrite: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Eric Cantor’s private letters to the Secretary of Transportation reveal he was begging for stimulus funds at the same time he was railing against the budget deficit, taxes, and government spending.

Here’s Cantor in March 2009 telling George Stephanopoulos:

And what we see in this budget, frankly, is an attempt, again, to try and stimulate the economy through government expenditure. And, you know, at best what that can do is redistribute wealth. It can’t create jobs; it can’t create wealth. We’ve got to get back to focusing on job creation and creating prosperity.

And here he is on October 5 2009 requesting $74.8 million to construct 11.4 miles of high-speed rail because, as he wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood:

… it will provide much needed new jobs and economic growth throughout the region.

As PoliticusUSA notes:

While speaking the language of the tea party publicly, Eric Cantor was doing the exact opposite privately. It turns out that Cantor knows that government spending creates jobs. He admitted as much in his own letters. The tea party and Republican voters have been sold an empty bill of goods. Their leaders talk about cutting government spending publicly while angling privately for more taxpayer dollars for their districts.

It seems that the Republican zeal for cutting spending only applies to programs that they ideologically disagree with like Medicare.

Eric Cantor, the same man who claims that the government can’t afford disaster relief, begged the Obama administration to pour millions of federal dollars into his district in order to create jobs.

Just another Republican hypocrite. Water’s still wet, etc. etc.

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Filed under economic stimulus, Rep. Eric Cantor, Republican Party

It’s Not Class War

Warren Buffett has an op-ed in today’s New York Times where he tells the GOP to “stop coddling the super-rich”:

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

[…]

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

It’s the death of yet another right-wing meme. Apparently the “fighter pilots of capitalism” — some of them at least — really do want the government to raise taxes on the wealthy. Imagine that!

I’m sorry I don’t have more time today to delve into this, because it’s the final nail in the conservative coffin. We know trickle-down doesn’t work, we know higher taxes don’t cause rich people to “go Galt” and head off to … I dunno, Somalia or some place. We know forcing middle class Americans to shoulder the national tax burden has ruined the economy. We know cutting government spending at a time when lower demand has caused the private sector to curtail hiring has led to higher unemployment. We know that sometimes you have to spend money to make money, and in the case of a catastrophic economic downturn, if the private sector won’t hire, the government must and that means temporary, short-term deficits.

Instead we have these free market fairy tales bringing the country to the brink of economic collapse.

Now, I don’t hang out with a lot of really rich folks, we don’t belong to a country club, we don’t have a yacht, we don’t move in those circles. But I’ve talked to a couple of people in that world, people I work with, music people, Wall Street people. Not a lot of these folks, just a handful. But I haven’t spoken to one millionaire who said they didn’t want their taxes raised. Maybe the few I know are just hippies or something, I dunno. But in the throes of the debt ceiling debate one Wall Street type told me he would rather have his taxes raised than deal with a market crash. “I could pay more,” he said. “I would rather pay more than lose what I do have in a market collapse.”

I just have to wonder who the super rich the Tea Party is supposedly coddling are. If billionaires like Warren Buffett want the country to return to a sane tax policy where “shared sacrifice” really means something, then who’s fighting it? The Koch brothers? Do the Kochs really think if the country spirals into an economic collapse people are going to line up to buy their StainMaster carpets and Lycra yoga pants and Supplex jogging gear and hunting trips to the Matador Ranch and Koch-refined gasoline for the SUV?

This isn’t a class war, it’s an ideological one. We’re fighting a group of people who, all evidence to the contrary, still believe that “freeing the market” to run roughshod over people is the way to go. That might have been true a few decades ago but we all live and work in a global marketplace now, and absence of any moderately protectionist policies just lowers American standards, it doesn’t raise those of the rest of the world. That’s what we’re dealing with here.

Even after the collapse of 2007, even after 30 years of wage stagnation, we still have people stubbornly attached to their crazy ideas which they are convinced will work this time. It didn’t work under Bush but by golly, he just did it wrong! It will work this time, honest! This is so crazy I have to think there’s something else going on. Something psychological, like maybe if they admit they were wrong and their economic model has a flaw, that means they were wrong about everything else, too.

You know why China is such an economic powerhouse? Besides billions of people, of course. How about some policies that have labeled it the “most protectionist country ever”:

“China has intervened massively in the foreign exchange markets for at least five years, buying at least $1 billion every day to keep the dollar strong and its own renminbi weak,” Fred Bergsten, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said in the text of a speech.

“This is by far the largest protectionist measure adopted by any country since the Second World War — and probably in all of history,” Bergsten said.

Bergsten estimated the China’s renminbi, also known as the yuan, is currently undervalued by at least 20 percent against the U.S. dollar as a result of China’s currency intervention.

That “is the equivalent of a subsidy of 20 percent on all China’s exports and an additional tariff of 20 percent on all China’s imports,” Bergsten said.

I know, just because China does something doesn’t mean we have to do something. But we really could have some modestly protectionist policies in place, you know, “for the duration.” One thing that annoys the hell out of me is hearing Democrats decry Washington gridlock by saying “there are some things we all agree on. Free trade agreements, for example. Let’s do those.”

No we most certainly do not all agree on free trade agreements! Free trade agreements are why American manufacturing has shipped overseas and the only jobs left for Americans are WalMart greeter and Wall Street trader. Come on, quit acting like there isn’t disagreement on this issue, because there is.

Back in 2009 I linked to a Harper’s piece by Alan Tonelson of the U.S. Business and Industry Council, in which he made a series of recommendations for President Obama. They were good recommendations, and I urge you to read them. Because the White House’s current approach is basically useless.

I don’t have time to go into any more depth on this, hopefully I’ll get back to you later in the week. But seriously: we’ve got some complicated problems right now, and they won’t be solved by bumper-sticker bromides, conservative fairy tales, or Democrats too afraid that Fox News will say mean things about them.

We need government policy that raises taxes on the wealthy and encourages job creation at home not abroad. When people have jobs they have income, and when they have income they buy shit. This ain’t hard, people.

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Filed under economic stimulus, economy, free hand of the market, taxes

Good Question, Bad Answer

Much is being made of John Boehner’s Tweet to President Obama in yesterday’s “town hall,” which read:

“After embarking on a record spending binge that’s left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs? #AskObama”

President Obama gave a long, rambling semi-answer instead of doing what he should have done, which is take on the fucking question. Democrats can’t seem to stand by their record to save their lives, and it costs us every time.

Had Obama actually answered the question, he might have pointed out what Salon’s Andrew Leonard wrote, which is that we’ve had “trickle down” economics for years and, well, to quote John Boehner: where are the jobs?

Wages are moribund, unemployment is stuck at 9 percent, and the corporate bottom line is doing just fine. You could be excused for thinking that if ever there was time to put the stake through supply-side economics, it would be now. Wall Street and big corporations are doing just fine, but absolutely nothing is trickling down. And yet Republicans are still pushing the same old song and dance, passionately holding the entire creditworthiness of the United States hostage in return for even lower taxes on corporations, adamantly refusing to countenance even the slightest revenue increase to help cushion the hard times for the Americans who are getting a raw deal out of the current recovery.

Where are the jobs? You tell us, John Boehner. We got the first round of “Bush tax cuts” in 2001, the second round in 2003. The recession officially began in December 2007, and Bush and the GOP’s brilliant plan to save the economy was to send everyone a check for $600. But Bush’s job creation record was dismal, and not just after the real estate bubble burst; during his entire eight years in office, President Bush had “the worst track record for job creation since the government began keeping records,” according to the Wall Street Journal:

The Bush administration created about three million jobs (net) over its eight years, a fraction of the 23 million jobs created under President Bill Clinton‘s administration and only slightly better than President George H.W. Bush did in his four years in office.

So, where were the jobs?

And then in stunningly stupid concession to Republicans, Democrats caved and filled the stimulus with tax cuts and tax credits, which we already know don’t work! And then in another stunningly stupid concession to Republican fantasies, last December we renewed the Bush tax cuts for two years.

So, where are the damn jobs? For the past 10 years we’ve had a steady stream of tax cuts and more tax cuts and individual “tax rebates.” This shit doesn’t work, people. They haven’t worked. If anyone wants to know where the jobs are, then look in a fucking mirror. Republicans keep selling their tax cut snake oil, Democrats keep falling for it, and where are the damn jobs?

As Ed at Gin And Tacos observes (and correcting Leonard):

Cutting the income tax is a demand-side solution. And that – far moreso than actual supply side ideas – has proven useless in spectacular fashion as a driver of economic growth. The theory is to give wage-earners more money to spend, which is great except that A) most wage-earners are already paying so little in Federal income tax that the cuts have little substantive impact, B) cuts are always lavished on a small population of high earners who are more likely to save than spend, and C) the civil religion of debt repayment, coupled with staggering levels of household debt, ensure that income tax cuts are just a way to funnel some money to banks and mortgage lenders.

Look, this is the same stuff we keep saying, over and over again. Asking where the jobs are is a logical question, it’s one Americans are asking too. Democrats need to start answering it directly. How about this:

“Where are the jobs? We’ve implemented billions of dollars of tax cuts for the past 10 years. We conceded to Republican demands and made tax cuts a major part of the economic stimulus. Taxes are lower now than at any time since Harry Truman was president — and that’s including federal, state and local income taxes. So where are the jobs? You tell me. We’ve been following Republican policies for a decade and it hasn’t worked.”

I mean, come on, Democrats. Stand up and fight back, for chrissakes. I simply don’t understand why you guys can’t seem to make a case — ever. What the fuck is wrong with you?

[UPDATE]:

Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has more. And before anyone sends me links to their Cato Institute and Heritage Foundation white papers, I just want to remind everyone that our side has Nobel Prize winners. When Stiglitz says right-wing ideologues “seek to repeal the basic laws of math and economics,” I’m going to believe him.

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Filed under economic stimulus, economy, employment, taxes

Hey Dems: We Told Ya So

But nobody fucking listened.

Paul Krugman writes:

Back when the original 2009 Obama stimulus was enacted, some of us warned that it was both too small and too short-lived. In particular, the effects of the stimulus would start fading out in 2010 — and given the fact that financial crises are usually followed by prolonged slumps, it was unlikely that the economy would have a vigorous self-sustaining recovery under way by then.

[…]

But never mind. Somehow it became conventional wisdom that the deficit, not unemployment, was Public Enemy No. 1 — a conventional wisdom both reflected in and reinforced by a dramatic shift in news coverage away from unemployment and toward deficit concerns. Job creation effectively dropped off the agenda.

Yes, it’s important to remind everyone of the news media’s complicity in this nightmare. Sure, Paul Krugman has a column, but someone remind me the last time he or someone like him was invited to appear on a Sunday morning bobblehead show to counter the right wing spin? I think the answer would be never.

You know what pisses me off? That even *I* called it, me, a know-nothing housewife in Tennessee, whose life is basically reading, writing and kitchen pyrotechnics in between caring for the dogs and cats and sucking up pet hair with the vacuum cleaner. I mean cripes, if I could have figured this out, what the fuck is wrong with the Democratic Party and President Obama and the enlightened folks at CNN and the rest?

Waaay back in February 2009 I wrote:

This Bill Stinks

[…]

Nice job, idiots. And when the economy fails to be stimulated by the great and glorious free hand of the market unfettered by some of the lowest taxes in the developed world, it will be the failure of the Obama Administration.

Just as Rush Limbaugh, the de facto leader of the Republican Party, hoped.

Mission accomplished. Keep the wealth trickling up from the working classes to the corporations. Maybe some day we’ll all be rounded up into some KBR constructed detention camp, paid for with our tax dollars at a cost of $385 million.

In Feburuary 2009 Krugman wrote:

It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.

Did I say mission accomplished? Why, yes I did. Amazing how Krugman’s prediction has come true. When will the Democrats (and for that matter, the President) wake up and realize this sabotage is feature, not bug? For purely partisan political reasons the GOP has tanked the economy. They wanted Obama to be a one term president and keeping the economy in the toilet was the only way to do it. What other explanation can there be? Remember when “deficits don’t matter”? Remember Bush’s tax cuts during war time and huge spending? Why else would the Republicans suddenly change their tune, going from free-wheeling spenders to deficit hawks as soon as the Democrats came into power? And I wish I could lay all the blame at the GOP’s feet but sadly they had plenty of help from Democrats who bought into the same discredited economic philosophy Krugman referenced.

So now the May jobs numbers are depressing, we’re looking at possible double-dip recession, and yet we continue to hear how the most important issue EVAH is the budget deficit. Bullshit. People need jobs. And not just any job, but jobs which pay a fucking decent wage:

–wage growth is really a problem here. On an hourly basis, yearly growth of nominal wages have been stuck below 2% since last February. That’s below recent inflation, and it means that only way families can get ahead is with more hours of work. For that option, see today’s jobs report.

Yes, that is the cruel irony of today’s situation. While Republicans keep telling us that we’re being crushed by the budget deficit, people are out of work and can’t find jobs and no one seems to be interested in doing anything about it! Republicans portray the unemployed as lazy, shiftless, and getting fat off their unemployment checks. Those who are lucky enough to be employed are actually earning less, which means they have less disposable income to do things like go to movies and eat out for dinner and buy the new lawnmower or get Little Suzy new clothes for summer camp. Or even to send Little Suzy to summer camp.

You know, all of those “service economy” jobs we traded manufacturing for.

And the dirty fucking hippies on the left were right. We told the Democrats to go big or go home or they would get the blame, that there would be hell to pay at election time. But no one wanted to listen to us — certainly not the mainstream media, those lions of cable news and the like, who during the stimulus debate were more worried about Michael Phelps’ bong hits than bothering to listen to some dirty fucking hippies.

Typical.

So basically we’re all screwed. The right wing narrative rules in our “liberal media” — the same “liberal media” following Sarah Palin around and Tweeting the family’s breakfast selections. Serious discussion never happens, we just get the same right-wing talking points repeated over and over again. How is it even possible that we had tax cuts in 2001, again in 2003, the economy still tanked, and then we renew those tax cuts and we’re basically in the same place. Yet we still keep hearing how tax cuts stimulate the economy and create jobs. Has no one noticed that in 10 years it hasn’t worked yet?

I guess we’re all just fucked, and it’s the Democrats’ own fault. At some point instead of throwing liberals under the bus you’re going to have to listen to us because near as I can tell we’ve been right on everything. And I’m getting really tired of being right about some of this stuff.

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Filed under Democratic Party, economic stimulus, economy, Media

>The Politics Of Fad Diets

>The GOP’s “tax and spend liberal” label notwithstanding, President Obama is apparently America’s biggest tax cutter in 60 years:

According to the Tax Policy Center, Federal taxes are lower than at any time since 1955. Obama has now reduced taxes by more than any president since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

According to the Orange County Register, “For the past two years, a family of four earning the median income has paid less in federal income taxes than at any time since at least 1955, according to the Tax Policy Center. All federal, state and local taxes combined are a lower percentage of per-capita income than at any time since the 1960s, according to the Tax Foundation. The highest income-tax bracket is its lowest since 1992. At 35 percent, it’s well below the 50 percent mark of much of the 1980s and the 70 percent bracket of the 1970s.”

So where are all the fucking jobs and economic growth that’s supposed to shower down upon us like manna from heaven? And how come no one ever challenges the righties on their steadfast belief in tax cuts as economic stimulus? Every time a Bob Schaeffer or Tweety or George Stuffinenvelopes interviews a GOPer about this, we get the same old line about tax cuts stimulating the economy and no one ever says, “well, it hasn’t yet!” I just don’t get it. It’s become almost ingrained in the national psyche that right wing voodoo economics works, when in fact it’s a fairy tale.

You want to know why a big swath of America votes against its own self-interest? It’s something every snake oil salesman, self-help guru and fad diet author knows: tell people what they want to hear and they’ll buy it every damn time. It doesn’t even have to work, as long as the people really, really want it to work. People want to think “the secret” to winning the lottery is to repeat some prosperity affirmation over and over. People want to think they can lose weight eating bacon and eggs and eschewing the toast and fruit. And people want to think the key to kickstarting the economy is to not pay taxes or invest in the country at all, but instead take all the goodies and let some invisible, magical force make everything alright, somehow.

This is also why right-wing Christianity is so compelling: people want to believe that Jesus preached self-reliance and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, they want to justify ignoring the human and environmental toll our standard of living exacts. We don’t want to change, because we’re human beings and we’re more afraid of change than anything else.

Doug J has more ….

…. as does Andrew Sullivan:

The much bigger problem with the GOP plan is its view of taxes. Even though we have historically low income tax rates for high-earning individuals, even though revenues have collapsed in the recession, even though we have empirically discovered that big tax cuts have not generated more economic growth, the GOP still insists on reforming taxes not to raise revenue but to reduce it. This is where the whole thing gets surreal. The very Laffer untruth that sank America into debt in the early 1990s s one still being peddled against all the relevant evidence to guide us through the next few decades. In my view, if we maintain that ideological fantasy, the US will become a banana republic in short order.

Yes, dear. Thanks for noticing. This is why we call them “Banana Republicans.” Again: the GOP is no longer the “Daddy Party.” They’re the “tell the chumps whatever they want to hear” Party. Weave some feel-good fantasy to keep the kids happy so they can go off drinking with their buddies and gambling at the Wall Street casino.

It’s not surreal, sweetie. It’s pathological.

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Filed under economic stimulus, President Barack Obama, Republicans, taxes

>Mirror Politics

>[UPDATE]:

I just saw an ad for Stephen Fincher (TN-8) where he blasts the Obama stimulus for spending money on windmill parts in China. “Jobs for China but not here,” it says. Can’t find the link right now but I can’t impress on Democrats enough the importance of the job outsourcing issue. Clearly it’s polling well for Republicans or we wouldn’t keep hearing the stimulus slammed for creating jobs overseas.

I realize this isn’t the same issue as the U.S. Chamber foreign funds deal, but in a way it is: Republicans are using the words “foreign corporations” as a pejorative. And the GOP is the party who has always been all “free markets” and “free trade”! They fight any hint of protectionism — until election time, when it’s convenient to exploit so they can send their free-trade loving Republicans to Washington D.C.

Wake up, Tennessee and America … you’re being played!

—————————————–

Anyone who doubts the wisdom of Democrats hammering Republicans on the foreign money issue need only watch this NRCC ad attacking Blue Dog Democrat Rep. Lincoln Davis, in the fight of his life to keep his seat.

Watch it here and tell me what you notice. Is that the Republican Party attacking a Democrat by alleging the stimulus “sent your tax dollars to foreign corporations who ship jobs overseas”? That’s the Republicans saying that, right?

If the Republican Party thinks this message resonates with voters, then by all means the Democrats should, too.

This is typical Republican Party political strategy: try to tar your opponent with the very horrible thing you yourself have been doing for years. Republicans do everything with mirrors, it’s the root of the IOKIYAR meme, and they are very, very good at it. They are thinking you won’t remember the shit storm they kicked up about the “Buy American” clause in the economic stimulus. Whaah it’s just a sap to unions, whaaah it’s going to spark a trade war, whaaah it’s going to cause the price of everything to go up, whaah it violates our trade treaties, whaah whaah whaah. Cranky John McCain tried to strip the clause from the bill completely. Here’s that pinnacle of patriotism, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, on the “Buy American” clause:

Thomas Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, added, “If we refuse to buy foreign-made goods, then our trading partners will refuse to buy from us. And since we are the world’s largest exporter, who will be hurt more?”

Got that? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce thinks “Buy American” is bad for America.

So yeah, that’s another thing the Democrats caved on. And fat lot of good it did you because now the NRCC is running ads against Democrats for not doing it. Fucking maroons, you got played. Again.

So yeah. Keep hammering them with this, Democrats. You’re on the right side on this one. Don’t cave.

Comments Off on >Mirror Politics

Filed under economic stimulus, midterm elections, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

>The Party Of Tax Cuts For Millionaires

>So now the Democratic Party is the party of tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires? When the hell did that happen?

Washington (CNN) – Thirty-one House Democrats, most of whom face tough re-election bids this fall, have signed a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urging them to extend expiring tax breaks for all income levels, including the wealthy.

Apparently this happened when a few Democrats started to wet their pants over the prospect of losing re-election. These 31 House Democrats want to give millionaires and billionaires tax cuts that will add $700 billion to the deficit that they claim to care so much about. Apparently the conventional wisdom is that a Bush Tax Hike® (hey, he’s the one who designed them to expire this year, remember?) is not a good idea during a down economy.

I just have one question for you people: if giving the nation’s upper 2% of income earners a tax cut was such a brilliant economic stimulus, why the fuck are we in this mess to begin with?

Paul Krugman did a nice piece explaining why high end tax cuts don’t deliver enough “bang for the buck.” If Krugman is too much of a Dirty Fucking Hippie for you, let me direct you to Moody’s:

Tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 under President George W. Bush were followed by increases in the saving rate among the rich, according to data from Moody’s Analytics Inc. When taxes were raised under Bill Clinton, the saving rate fell.

So if the goal is economic stimulus, giving rich people a tax cut won’t do the trick.

But it doesn’t matter if this is good policy or not, because this isn’t about policy. This is about politics. This is about 30+ Democrats in the House who are scared they are going to lose re-election. That’s all these things are ever about: the politics, not the policy. And this is why the Democrats are in trouble. Because if we had people in Washington worried more about governing, not getting re-elected, then maybe we’d have some actual workable policies in place, not more Republican-lite crap. Maybe our economic stimulus would have been stronger and maybe our recession would have been over and maybe people would be back at work and maybe we wouldn’t be talking about letting “Bush-era tax cuts expire” but instead talking about the coming Bush Tax Hike® and maybe those 30+ Democrats wetting themselves over losing re-election might actually be in a stronger position today because the economy is stronger.

But that’s my alternate hippie liberal fantasyland. In the real world we have Democrats who think governing like Republicans is the surest way to success. Despite the fact that time and time again they are proved wrong, they keep doing it.

What a strange world we live in.

[REMINDER]: The tax cuts were set to expire so Congress could pretend they won’t add to the deficit:

One of the most notable characteristics of EGTRRA is that its provisions are designed to sunset, or revert to the provisions that were in effect before it was passed. EGTRRA will sunset on January 1, 2011 unless further legislation is enacted to make its changes permanent. The sunset provision sidesteps the Byrd Rule, a Senate rule that amends the Congressional Budget Act to allow Senators to block a piece of legislation if it purports to significantly increase the federal deficit beyond a ten-year term. The sunset allowed the bill to stay within the letter of the PAYGO law while removing nearly $700 billion from amounts that would have triggered PAYGO sequestration.

It was a dodge, plain and simple. So does the deficit matter or doesn’t it? Who among the Teanuts wants to take that one?

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Filed under Democratic Party, economic stimulus, taxes

>Nobody Could Have Anticipated, v. 1,018

>[UPDATE] 2: A perfect example of what Ruth and I talk about when it comes to listening to the wrong people. The same Wall Street assholes who caused this problem continue to perpetuate free market fairy tales and now their widdew feewings are hurt. Aw I have a sad. Wait, I don’t. Fuck off. I’ve already squandered enough of my retirement money listening to you idiots.

————————–

[UPDATE]: Via Atrios is this must-read post from Ruth Calvo about the right’s stranglehold on the nation’s economic policy. Belief in such fairy tales as “trickle down” and the “Laffer curve” and the ability of tax cuts to create jobs and other myths continues in our nation’s business press and Washington, all evidence to the contrary.

Go read the post….

————————–

Really? Really? Ten years of this shit and we’re still hearing the same tired excuses from Washington?

Nobody could have anticipated that Bush and the Republican Party shredded the economy with spending on wars and big tax cuts to the wealthy? (… and deregulation, and the casino mentality on Wall Street, etc. etc.)

Are you fucking serious, Robert Gibbs? Yes, let’s step back to January and February 2009 for a second. Remember all of the phony-baloney Republican hand-wringing over zombie marsh mice?

Remember all of the phony-baloney “pork” Republicans claimed was in the stimulus? If I knew the bill stank in February 2009, why didn’t you? Why didn’t you fight for something better? Something that would really work? Something that wouldn’t put us where we are today, with midterm elections around the corner and people still out of jobs, which means a lot of Democratic Congress Critters may be out of a job. You needed to go big or go home and it looks like you chose go home. Why?

Look, I don’t expect Robert Gibbs or anyone in Washington D.C. to read my shitty little blog but for chrisssakes aren’t you people reading Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winner in Economics? Don’t you read the Huffington Post? Don’t you read Matt Yglesias? Or Moody’s economist Mark Zandi, who said even at $900 billion (the final bill was far smaller), the stimulus would be too small?

Who the fuck were you people listening to? John Boehner? Fox News? Rush Limbaugh?

This is why I’m pissed off. When are we going to stop listening to the same people who have been consistently wrong about everything since forever?

When?

19 Comments

Filed under economic stimulus, rants, Wall Street

>You Have A Funny Definition Of Victory

>My inbox has received more than a few e-mails touting the Senate Dems’ big “victory” yesterday. Seems they were finally able to pass the FMAP extension which gave states money for Medicaid and prevented teacher layoffs. [Full disclosure: what really passed was some procedural bullshit which clears the way for the bill’s passage, yada yada.]

Amazingly, it’s another one of those bills Republicans have been blocking for no earthly reason save to be dicks. The Democrats had to weaken the package until the usual suspects, the two Senators from Maine, agreed to vote Aye. And there was much rejoicing across the internet.

Here’s how the bill passed:

The two moderate Republicans were drawn to support the measure after Democratic leaders scaled back the measure from $24 billion to $16.1 billion and provided offsets for the entire cost of the legislation, which includes $10 billion for education programs to prevent teacher layoffs.

For liberals, the offsets came at a price: Almost $12 billion of the $26.1 billion tab is covered by cutting food stamp benefits to low-income Americans beginning in 2014. 

Food stamps. We paid for preventing teacher layoffs and Medicaid cuts by cutting food stamps.

Fuck you very much.

This isn’t a victory, it’s a tragedy. Quit telling me to be happy! Own up to the sorry state of the modern American legislative process! Teachable moments, people! Hell, point fingers if you want: it’s perfectly okay to say, “Hey, this is what your Republican Party represents: taking food from needy families to pay for teachers and Medicaid.” Last time I checked it was an election year, and aren’t these the same assholes refusing to budge on letting the Bush tax cuts expire? Hello?

I know I’ve been a bit of a downer lately but it makes me nuts to get e-mails trumpeting the Senate’s “bold step forward” when I know better. Can’t we please be honest with ourselves for crying out loud?

Once again I’m being told a shit sandwich is filet mignon. It’s wearing thin, people. I know it’s been tough slogging, and I know this is a battle we very nearly didn’t win. I’m not saying it shouldn’t have passed at all. But let’s not pop the champagne corks. You are paying for teachers and state Medicaid by cutting food stamps. This is not a high-five moment. This is a moment to stand up and say, “we were forced to make a terrible choice today because Republicans have their priorities messed up.”

I mean for crying out loud, people. If the Republicans insist on being dicks then at least make them own it.

7 Comments

Filed under Democrats, economic stimulus