And now, they're coming for your Social Security money - they want your fucking retirement money - they want it back - so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all from you sooner or later. Because they own this fucking place. It's a Big Club: and you're not in it.
"If you stabilize the debt in some reasonable way, we’re going to have growth. The unemployment rate should come down."
— Bob Woodward, very serious person, opines on the economic situation during a Meet the Press appearance.
While I certainly don’t anticipate David Gregory will ever produce a substantive followup, one could at least assume anyone in the employ of a major media conglomerate could muster the five whys. You wouldn’t even have to break out all five to demonstrate that Woodward is comically wrong and furthermore has not one fucking idea about what he’s saying.
"The first solution [for the Great Depression] that occurred to statesmen was to propose tightening of belts, acceptance of hardship, resort to patience. Few can believe that suffering, especially by others, is in vain. Anything that is disagreeable must surely have beneficial economic effects. […] People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich."
— John Kenneth Galbraith, The Age of Uncertainty. Yep.
"Every year we get a slightly different version of the same old [Paul Ryan budget proposal], and every year we have to waste entire man-years of analysis in order to make the same exact points about it. And the biggest point is that his budget would force enormous, swinging cuts in virtually every domestic program, especially those for the poor. If this bothers Ryan, he’s had plenty of time to revise his budget roadmap to address it.
But he hasn’t. He knows perfectly well that his budget concentrates its cuts on the poorest Americans. It’s been pointed out hundreds of times, after all. If he found that troublesome he’d change it. Since he hasn’t, the only reasonable conclusion is that this is exactly what he intends. Let’s stop pretending otherwise."
— Kevin Drum and I are in agreement. Stop making excuses for Ryan. Stop calling him “serious” or “wonky.” He’s neither. He simply puts an unachievable yet comfortingly numerical face on the GOP broader policy goal. Namely, reduce taxes on rich to as close to zero as can be achieved in a single go-round. Then make a show of balancing this huge deficit driver by a) failing to name any substantive tax reforms and but also specify that you’re going to be relying on extensive, substantive tax reform —and— b) cutting all programs for the poor to the bone or entirely. Can’t have a safety “hammock” after all.
When this still fails to balance the budget, you are free to go after Medicare, which was the plan all along. While there, may as well functionally end Social Security; even though it’s not a deficit driver, you’ve got huge constituencies and the MSM convinced that it is so why the Hell not? Then you call it a day and can efficiently sand the gears against putting any of it back in place even if you find your party in the legislative minority for decades. Huzzah for democracy.
In total, the economy has lost close to $1.3tn in annual demand as a result of the collapse of the housing bubble. This explains the economy’s weak growth and high unemployment. There is no simple way to replace this demand.
We can gather together a coven of market-worshipping Republicans and sacrifice all the workers and retirees we want, it still will not replace the demand gap. We can love the private sector as much as we want and it still will not make firms go out and invest and hire when they don’t see demand for their products.
I’m not sure how many times the Republicans have to say the same stuff, plainly and in modern English, before it begins to sink in to the minds of those in the media that they, the Republicans in Congress, want Obama to fail in his bid for reelection and to achieve that goal, they need the American economy to fail.
You, as a GOP House mover-and-shaker (aka Tea Klan fanatic), are faced with the newly rising popularity of Obama (e.g. he’s in the 50s for the first time in a while), the first positive news on housing starts in a long, long time (driven more or less entirely by huge demand for apartments, since vanishingly few folks can qualify to buy houses anymore, at least not considered relative to the bubble excess and the fact that home foreclosures are still relatively high), a suddenly more optimistic public attitude re: the economy, and none of your own GOP candidates for the nomination are exactly setting the woods on fire, and may well be instead burning down the house relative to your broader chances both up- and down-ticket come 2012.
All that considered, do you, the rank and file Tea Klan fanatic, feel comfortable handing that same Obama you want to fail a sure-fired way to boost the economy even more as 2012 rolls along? Or do you want to apply the emergency brakes? With this most recent nonsense, I think no sensate being could still deny that we have our answer.
Now, of course, there is some subtlety to their position. They don’t want the extension of this particular tax break because it a) doesn’t help their prime audience in any way (aka the 1%), because those folks either don’t draw traditional paychecks and/or said pay is a relatively tiny fraction of their entire portfolio, so they could care less and won’t notice either way b) it legitimately does help the broader economy and quickly since we’re in an aggregate demand slump and this is cash in the pockets of the 99% who actually create that aggregate demand in, uh, aggregate, and c) is a quick and relatively easy way to sand the gears of the economy, and they think they can sell it to their crazed idiocratic supporters through ever-willing conduits like FOXnews and the Wall Street Journal (The latter of which is already overboard) using such time-honored tools as goalpost moving and poison-pill additions. No one will ever know, and if they do, we can convince them to blame “Democrat leaders in the Senate.” Who, for once, have grown a pair and are doing their part to (rightly) hang this on the GOP. They even have a “Tea Klan tax hike” style meme going. It’s like they’ve finally gotten hip to the way the other side messaged in, oh, 1992.
But frankly this is a pretty simple calculation for the GOP. Braveheart and all the rest are just window dressing that, as usual, the MSM is lapping up. The real story, the one far too shrill to actually report: Anyone or anything getting in the way slowing the economy can kindly go die in the streets. Tax proposals benefiting the 1%: always welcome. Wedge issues that reliably bring this or that fractional percent of old white voters to the polls in November: always welcome. Anything that might actually help the economy and, by extension, Obama: forget about it. And they have.
"The surtax would impact around 345,000 taxpayers, roughly 0.2 percent of taxpayers, or one in 500 of them. Those people would pay on average an additional 2.1 percent of their overall income, or just over 1/50th of that overall income, in taxes.
In a majority of states, only one-tenth of one percent, or one in 1,000 taxpayers, would pay this surtax.
And how many people would benefit from the payroll tax cut? According to the group, around 113 million tax filing units — either single workers or families that include more than one worker — would see their payroll tax cut extended. That’s a lot of people — well over 113 million workers, in fact."
— Citizens For Tax Justice runs the numbers on the proposed funding mechanism that would extend the payroll tax “holiday” currently scheduled to end December 31, 2011. I don’t have to remind you that Republicans are categorically against this tax increase, because it harms the “job creators” out there in that 0.2 percent.
The vast majority of the GOP’s 1% constituency wouldn’t even see so much as a dime’s difference, whilst everyone earning a paycheck would stand to receive ~$1000 dollars more in an aggregate demand crisis. So, of course, we prevent the tiny increase for a tiny fraction of the richest people on Earth in exchange for a further insult to our tottering economy when the payroll tax extension is worth ~$250 billion to our economy. Great policy.
John Kyl (R, AZ), Saturday: [tax increases are] the wrong medicine for our ailing economy, [...] [any possibility of a potential future increase only serves to] put a wet blanket over job creation and economic recovery.
John Kyl (R, AZ), Sunday: The payroll tax holiday has not stimulated job creation. We don’t think that is a good way to do it. [Thus we want to raise taxes on every American that currently receives a paycheck]. The best way to hurt economic growth is to impose more taxes on the people who do the hiring. As a result, the Republicans have said, ‘Don’t raise the existing tax rates on those who do the hiring.’ [That is to say, the 1%. Who aren't, uh, actually hiring. But still. Don't raise THEIR taxes. Raise the 99%'s taxes. Only that will get the old economy going again!]
Lemkin: Again, the MSM will see no dissonance whatsoever in these positions. Of course raising taxes on most everyone in the country to avoid a tiny tax increase on a tiny fraction of the country makes the best economic sense in an aggregate demand-based economic downturn. What other conclusion is even possible given this data? Surely both sides are at fault for low aggregate demand in the 99%; this is only fixable if both sides agree to lower taxes on the 1%. Again: what other conclusion is even possible?
Do nothing, Congress. Ezra Klein and EJ Dionne both write today about the benefits of simply letting various existing policies expire…doing so would net $7.1 TRILLION in deficit savings over the same decade that the “Super-committee” can’t find a way to reliably extract $1T. This path requires no votes, it requires no legislation, it requires no GOP assistance of any kind. Gridlock is all that’s required to make it happen.
So why is it no Serious Person (to whom deficits are, always have been, and always will be the preeminent policy question come-what-may) ever talks about the biggest deficit reduction plan currently out there, a plan that outstrips all other extant deficit plans by several orders of magnitude? Because they don’t actually care about deficits. None of them do. Because deficit reduction is not the goal. The GOP and their media enablers do not care about deficits. They care about eliminating social spending in this country to lower taxes on the richest 1%. Period. Everything and anything else that happens is collateral damage to that desired policy outcome.
Gridlock works. Gridlock will help America. Relying on gridlock is the best possible negotiating tool for Democrats. Period. Be prepared to end the Bush tax cuts. All of them. Be prepared to end the “doc fix.” All of it. Be prepared to end it all. Then you begin to drive policy decisions and have actual governing authority to get jobs bills and other things done.
Instead, they will, of course, continue to negotiate with themselves and parrot right-wing talking points. This is why they fail.
Just sit there quietly and let it all expire. Whenever the GOP talks about deficits, you bring up the $7T you are cutting deficits by over the next decade.
When the GOP gets tired of that, realizes you are serious about this, and is ready to talk, they’ll come to you. Then you set the terms. Then you begin to govern. This is how politics works. The Democrat seems to have largely forgotten this. Again: this is why they fail.
"In the coming days we will force members of Congress to vote on the individual proposals in the American Jobs Act. They’ll have a chance to vote on whether they believe we should keep teachers out of work or whether we should put them back in the classroom where they belong. They’ll get to vote on whether they believe construction workers should stay unemployed while our roads and bridges fall apart, or whether we should put these men and women back to work rebuilding America. They’ll be forced to decide whether we should cut taxes for middle class Americans or let them go up next year."
— Barack Obamatalks tough. Finally. Imagine if we’d had this guy (and every other Democrat) out there saying words like these starting on January 21, 2009 and then continuing to say them every day since, each and every time a microphone turned on. The economic and legislative situation might well be very much the same, but the political situation would be very different indeed.
You still can’t say [publicly] that Fortune 500 chairmen need to maximize their incomes, but it’s now perfectly OK to say that real estate speculators and day traders who pay taxes as S-Corporations to dodge Social Security and Medicare payments need to maximize their incomes. By God, they built this country!
Yep. Twenty years of message discipline gets you places. The Democrat could learn something from this sort of thing but never does.